- In America, when you are poor, you can instantly disappear like this into the subterranean rabbit holes of our vast jail and prison complex.
- Rise Up or Die
Chris Hedges, Truthdig
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A guard walks past prisoner cells at a Connecticut Supermax facility in 2001. AP/Steve Miller
Aug 12, 2013 | Big Frankie, Little Frankie and Al, three black men who spent a lot of time in prison and have put their lives back together in the face of joblessness, crushing poverty and the violence of city streets, abruptly stopped appearing at the prison support group I help run at the Second Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, N.J. This happens in poor neighborhoods. You see people. You make plans to see them again. And then without explanation they vanish. They get arrested for something, often trivial, after the police randomly stop them, run a check and find they owe fines, missed a court date or a meeting with a probation officer, owe child support, violated probation or have a couple of ounces of pot. The big mechanical jaw of the legal system gulps them down. And since they are poor and cannot afford bail they stay locked up. And that appears to be what happened to Big Frankie, Little Frankie and Al.
The rumor on the street is that Little Frankie, whose name is Frank Clarke and who is of Hispanic descent, did not appear for a court date because he was afraid of being deported. But no one is sure, except about the being afraid part. The Union County Jail in Elizabeth says Big Frankie and Al were arrested for “possession of controlled dangerous substances.” But this does not mean they had drugs. They might have. But they might not have. Police plant drugs all the time. And if Big Frankie and Al did have drugs they did not have very much.
Rise Up or Die, Chris Hedges, Truthdig
A handful of corporate oligarchs around the globe have everything—wealth, power and privilege—and the rest of us struggle as part of a vast underclass, increasingly impoverished and ruthlessly repressed. There is one set of laws and regulations for us; there is another set of laws and regulations for a power elite that functions as a global mafia.