The Ghetto as Social Control
The concrete jungle in America goes by many names—the “inner-city,” the “ghetto” and “hood.” To a few million Americans this is what we call home, and not just Black and Latinos, but whites and Asian immigrants as well. The capitalist state has organized a concentrated effort in order to deprive this community of its rights and to perpetuate poverty. These laws are veiled as being against “crime,” but in reality they are a social control meant to keep poor working communities in their so-called place by denying them any form of social mobility to better their lives and provide more income for their families.
The Repercussions of Imprisonment
Laws that seek to stigmatize ex-felons must be viewed by working people as an attack on people of color and the working class as a whole. Most felons come from poor working class communities of color, and punishing them economically is perpetuating the cycle of debilitating poverty. The exclusion laws for felons should be viewed as what they are—a racist, classist and predatory tool that capitalism uses to inhibit the political and social power of the working class, particular the Black community, but also the Latino community.
The racist exclusion laws prevent ex-felons from practicing their right to vote, make them incapable of holding public office or recieving Medicaid or serving on a jury. There is also an economic impact where many ex-felons are restricted from taking better-paying jobs in the public and private sectors. Ex-felons in the United States must be viewed as a particular oppressed sector within an oppressed community.
The Cause of Crime
We offer a solution to this issue. First off, everyone deserves a second chance. Most felons are in fact non-violent offenders who committed their crimes while in youth. We say that first off there should be an immediate rehabilitation of non-violent offenders. There should be no reason why petty theft committed while one is in his or her teens should destroy a person’s life forever. We also call for a state-sponsored drug rehabilitation program that treats drug addiction much like a disease rather than a crime. We hold no illusions that these laws would be implemented under capitalism since crime is viewed as something to “get tough” on (meaning to punish the ill social effects of poverty rather than treating the cause). But we feel the working class must seek to unite with all oppressed sectors of society and end exploitation of man by man.