In California, prison doctors have sterilized at least 148 women, mainly Mexicans, from 2006 to 2010. Why? They don’t want to have to provide welfare funding for any children they may have in the future and to eliminate ‘defectives’ from the gene pool.
The sterilization procedures cost California taxpayers $147,460 between 1997 and 2010. The doctors at the prison argue it is money well-spent.
Dr. James Heinrich, an OB-GYN at Valley State Prison for Women, said, “Over a 10-year period, that isn’t a huge amount of money compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children – as they procreated more.”
In 1909, California passed the country’s third sterilization law, authorizing reproductive surgeries of patients committed to state institutions for the “feebleminded” and “insane” that were deemed suffering from a “mental disease which may have been inherited and is likely to be transmitted to descendants.” Based on this eugenic logic, 20,000 patients in more than ten institutions were sterilized in California from 1909 to 1979. Worried about charges of “cruel and unusual punishment,” legislators attached significant provisions to sterilization in state prisons. Despite these restrictions, about 600 men received vasectomies at San Quentin in the 1930s when the superintendent flaunted the law.
Moreover, there was a discernible racial bias in the state’s sterilization and eugenics programs. Preliminary research on a subset of 15,000 sterilization orders in institutions (conducted by Stern and Natalie Lira) suggests that Spanish-surnamed patients, predominantly of Mexican origin, were sterilized at rates ranging from 20 to 30 percent from 1922 to 1952, far surpassing their proportion of the general population.
In her recent book, Miroslava Chávez-García shows, through exhaustively researched stories of youth of color who were institutionalized in state reformatories, and sometimes subsequently sterilized, how eugenic racism harmed California’s youngest generation in patterns all too reminiscent of detention and incarceration today.
California was the most zealous sterilizer, carrying out one-third of the approximately 60,000 operations performed in the 32 states that passed eugenic sterilization laws from 1907 to 1937.
Although such procedures may seem harsh, they are not illegal. The Supreme Court ruled in 1927 that women can be forcibly sterilized in jail in Buck vs Bell. Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”
Building on the mass hunger strike of prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison in July of last year, several hundred prisoners across Alabama have declared that, beginning Easter Sunday, they will stop prison-mandated labor in protest of detestable living conditions.
The conditions in Alabama prisons are horrendous, packing twice as many people as the 16,000 that can be housed “humanely”, with everything from black mold, brown water, cancer causing foods, insect infestations, and general disrepair. They are also run by free slave labor, with 10,000 incarcerated people working to maintain the prisons daily, adding up to $600,000 dollars a day, or $219,000,000 a year of slave labor if inmates were paid federal minimum wage, with tens of thousands more receiving pennies a day making products for the state or private corporations.
Unpaid labor includes cooking and cleaning, production of license plates, furniture, chemicals, and linens, and farming. The slavery analogy is more than metaphorical: African-Americans comprise only 26% of Alabama’s population, but make up more than 60% of the prison population due to reactionary legislation and racist targeting of communities of color. Reports of beatings and systemic rape and sexual abuse of women inmates by guards at Tutwiler State Prison have surfaced in the media over the last year.
On the outside, labor unions and prisoners’ advocacy groups have been instrumental in helping prisoners organize themselves. The Free Alabama Movement is pushing an “Education, Rehabilitation, and Re-entry Preparedness Bill” to the Alabama legislature, while the Industrial Workers of the World labor union has vowed to provide support and assistance to the incarcerated laborers.
Melvin Ray, spokesperson for the Free Alabama Movement (FAM) said:
When we look at our situations inside of the Alabama Department of Corrections, we have no choice but to engage in this nonviolent and peaceful protest for civil and human rights. We sleep with rats and roaches. We work for free and eat slop unfit for human consumption. We serve decades in prison solely to provide free labor and without any real prospect for parole, and without any recourse to the courts for justice or redress of grievances. Our mothers, wives, and daughters must expose their breasts and panties just to visit us. This should not be acceptable to anyone. Prison is supposed to be a place where people go to work out issues and return to society. But when there is no focus on education or rehab but solely on profit margins, human suffering is inevitable. ADOC is about free labor and the new slavery no one wants to talk about. That is no longer going to work for the 30,000 of us who suffer because of it.
The Industrial Workers of the World was involved in a similar campaign in 1987, in which they organized 400 incarcerated laborers in an Ohio state prison, before the government ruled that prisoners are not legally entitled to the right to form a union - a right which all other workers enjoy.
More on the Free Alabama Movement’s strike
Juvenile in Justice
Juvenile In Justice is a project to document the placement and treatment of American juveniles housed by law in facilities that treat, confine, punish, assist and, occasionally, harm them. Learn more about the project, and follow the blog, at www.juvenile-in-justice.com
Juvenile in Justice the book, with essays by Ira Glass of This American Life and Bart Lubow of Annie E. Casey Foundation, can be ordered here. For more information about the Juvenile-in-Justice exhibition, visit the exhibition page.
The work has been published on CBS News, Wired.com, NPR, PBS Newshour, ProPublica, and Harper’s Magazine, for which it was awarded the 2012 ASME Award for Best News and Documentary Photography. The project has been generously supported by grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Center for Cultural Innovation.
1. I’ve been locked up for 21 months. I haven’t been sentenced yet. —D.P., age 16 Bridges Juvenile Center (Spofford), Bronx, New York, a secure detention facility built in 1957 with a maximum capacity of 75 kids, closed March 2011.
2. A 12-year-old juvenile in his windowless cell at Harrison County Juvenile Detention Center in Biloxi, Mississippi, operated by Mississippi Security Services, a private company. There is currently a lawsuit against MSS that forced it to reduce the center’s population. An 8:1 inmate to staff ratio must now be maintained.
3. I have been here about three weeks. I got picked up for VOP. Not much to do here. Mostly I write on the wall. I really don’t want to talk to you. —A.W., age 16 Harrison County Juvenile Detention Center, Biloxi, Mississippi.
4. A young girl at Maryvale, an all-girls level-12 institution in Rosemead, California.
5. I’m waiting for my mom to come get me. Is she in there? She’s at work today. I want to go home. I got in trouble at school today. —R.T., age 10 Jan Evans Juvenile Justice Center, Reno, Nevada. R.T. was brought in from school by a policeman. He stabbed a schoolmate, but it is unclear what the tool was, a pencil, knife, fork … He was waiting to be picked up by his mom, who couldn’t come get him until she got off work for fear of losing her job. He was checked on every five minutes. The director of the facility recalled an eight-year-old being brought in for taking a bagel and stated, “This is not the place for these offenses.”
6. I’ve been here for two weeks, and this is my third time in. I’m in the sixth grade. I was in placement but I ran away. They accused me of assault against my mom, but she scratched herself and said I did it. My dad lives in Atlanta and works in a barbershop. -E.Y., age 11 Juvenile Detention Center, Houston, Texas.
7. I went to day school next door to this place for eight months. When I went back to regular school I got in a fight in three days. A kid was calling my mom bad names. I punched him and left school and started beating up a car. Cops came for me and I wouldn’t put on my seat belt when they put me in their car. So that was another violation. I told them I didn’t want to come back here … but here I am. I’ve been here a week and have a week to go. I’m “sanctioned” for two weeks. —N.R., age 12 Douglas County Juvenile Detention, Lawrence, Kansas.
8. Southwest Idaho Juvenile Detention Center, Caldwell, Idaho.
9. B.P., age 18, is self-abusive, not taking his meds, combative, and won’t think twice about hurting staff. He is being held in the crisis intervention unit, on 24-hour supervision. He is wearing only his underwear. Half the staff is female, and thus they will supervise a male, although they don’t watch him shower or use the bathroom. His clothes are removed when he goes in the unit to prevent him from hanging himself. MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility, Woodburn, Oregon.
10. C.L has made a career out of being a juvenile system resident. He is 17 and has been in the system since he was 12. He sees no future for himself and claims the judge hates him and will never let him go home. He was in a psychiatric institution in Las Vegas. He thinks he will go from here to a group home rather than his own home. When he was in the psychiatric hospital, the staff let him do what he wanted as long as he didn’t bother them. He didn’t participate in any program for almost a year- now he refuses to be in any type of program. He tries to make deals with the counselors, ex. ”If I can call my mother, I will behave,” instead of conforming to the system in place, which rewards juveniles with calls home for participating in their program. C.L was part of an escape recently, he is a smart kid. He has daily talks with counselors. In the observation cell he is not permitted books, pens or pencils and is observed every five minutes. He claimed that his meal tasted like shit, so he shit on his tray. Nevada Youth Training Center, Elko, Nevada.
"Other parts of ancient Eurasia had traditions of third-gender spirit-people. Herodotus and Hippocrates both discuss the “enarees”, or male-to-female transsexual shamans among the ancient Scythians, who “mutilated” their genitalia and took on female roles. They were said to be the most powerful shamans of their people. Ovid actually claimed that some Scythian priestesses knew how to extract “female poison” distilled from the urine of a mare in heat, with which to dose men in order to feminize them. The average person might throw this off as silliness, if they didn’t know that pregnant mare’s urine is the main source of Premarin, the most widely used estrogen drug today. They also ate a lot of licorice root - so popular among them that the Greeks to whom they exported it referred to it as “the Scythian root” - which is also an anti-androgen."
I love trans history!
I would FUCKING LOVE to see a comprehensive trans history book, that especially covered the history of HRT, I’ve always had questions but never really had answers!
especially after YEARS of our HISTORY BEING ERASED and pushed under the rug to make cis people comfortable, and say that “trans people id a modern thing” to be able to show up and take out a history book and be like BOOM shut the hell up.
"A study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, “Who governs? Who really rules?” in this country, is:
“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, …” and then they go on to say, it’s not true, and that, “America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened” by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy."
If we had a truly independent and adversarial press in my country, this would be a big news story, but they still haven’t found that plane, so … whaddayagonnado right?
"To the extent that the word ‘desegregation’ remains in our vocabulary, it describes an antique principle, not a current priority. Today, we are more likely to talk of diversity—but diversification and desegregation are not the same undertaking. To speak of diversity, in light of this country’s history of racial recidivism, is to focus on bringing ethnic variety to largely white institutions, rather than dismantling the structures that made them so white to begin with."(via newyorker)
RIO DE JANEIRO – Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes … “Ew, what’s that smell?”
At Ipanema beach in January, the organization Meu Rio staged a protest in an attempt to make it known that thousands of gallons of raw sewage are dumped into the ocean off Rio’s coast each day.
“For three months we held protests every weekend to turn an invisible problem into a visible one,” Leona Deckelbaum, the campaign coordinator with Meu Rio, said in a recent interview. Only about 34 percent of Rio’s sewage is treated, and the rest simply washes into the azure waters, giving new meaning to the nautical term poop deck.
Guanabara Bay, the site of several 2016 Olympic sailing events, has 78 times Brazil’s legally allowed limit of fecal pollution, and 195 times the U.S. limit. In addition to human waste, the bay is also a receptacle for trash from ships and the bay’s 15 adjacent communities, as well as toxic runoff from a former landfill. And its not just Guanabara–the ritzy Leblon and Ipanema beach areas are plagued with similar pollution problems. The state environmental agency, INEA, found that Leblon and Ipanema were unfit for swimming for 40 percent of 2011. Botafogo Beach had so much fecal pollution that it did not pass a single INEA test in 2013, according to the BBC.
"In the waters just off Copacabana beach, the measurement of fecal coliform bacteria spiked to 16 times the Brazilian government’s satisfactory level as recently as three weeks ago, bad news for the marathon swimmers and triathletes set to compete there," the AP noted in November.
Olympic teams are getting grossed out and nervous.
Read more. [Image: Felipe Dana/AP]