Discussion: John Oliver Uses Muppets To Explain 'Fundamentally Broken' Prison System (VIDEO)

Discussion for article #225322

John Oliver might be the best thing on TV today. He’s like a combination of The Daily Show and Vice. I am so glad he got to step out on his own and do this.


Prisons are a profit center since slavery ended.

“Florida Governor’s Campaign Backed by Private Prison CEO


…and he didnt even get to the horrors of the private probation system


There’s a book called “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II” that talks about how Southern states introduced laws to allow blacks to be arrested on very minor crimes, such as not having a work contract or being out after dark without written permission of their employer, and then be swept up into a contract labor system that kept them enslaved for years at a time. Not virtually enslaved. Actually enslaved. The book speaks extensively about northern Alabama and the huge industrial works there at the Sloss steel works and the mines that supported it. Contracted prison labor died at horrifc rates under unbelieveable conditions for decades. It also had the side effect of making it practically impossible to organize the big industrial works in the south, because many, if not most, of them were run by slaves. I truly believe that’s the end goal of the private prison industry: a slave labor system to use as a hammer to drive wages and benefits down nationwide.


I know the work and the PBS version of the book is good also. I view it as a compendium of other works tracing the ills of Reconstruction, the migration patterns out of the South, the rise of the KKK and the Red Summer, and the ultimate decision to anchor the freemen into a similar system as the share croppers.

Parchman in MS and Angola in LA were known for prison work camps where you never left. The Northern states followed suit after WWI and the migration uptick following WWII. It is now a thriving private sector profit center, sweeping in the mentally ill, the poor and immigrants. In some cases it is no more than debtor prisons like Europe which supplied the majority of Colonial workers to America.


While I’m sure the American prison system could use an overhaul, comparing it to Slovenia with a total population of 1,9 million in the whole country really makes little sense. I wish we only had that many icarcerated.

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“African-Americans have been sent to prison for drug offenses at up to ten times the rate [of pink-skinned people]….”

I’ve always wondered why that is, but it’s such a mystery, that one.

Like the Voynich Manuscript, or the Wow Signal, or the Antikythera Mechanism: a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

I guess we’ll just never know why minorities are disproportionately punished in America.



…unless you are trying to rhyme with schizophrenia. You do get that, right?


Mr. Oliver is doing an outstanding job at raising very important issues in an informative and entertaining way. A hat tip in his general direction!


Change, Baby!