Blog post #5 – how the prison industrial complex affects marginalized groups and how/ if the term prison industrial complex is relevant here is so called “Canada.” 

Just as a reminder my question is how the prison industrial complex affects marginalized groups. In my last blog post I talked about what groups are affected by the prison industrial complex and how people’s intersecting marginalized identities play a role in how they are affected by the prison industrial complex.  In this blog post I will be going more in depth about how the prison industrial complex affects these marginalized groups and how/ if the term prison industrial complex is relevant here is so called “Canada.” 

How exactly does the prison industrial complex affect these marginalized groups?  

As we see prison populations grow, we see more and more money being allocated to imprisonment. We see prisons consuming social wealth that could be used to be put back into marginalized communities, so that they can receive the resources they need (1). With more and more money being allocated to prisons and not being invested into the communities that need it most, we are not breaking this endless cycle of imprisonment within marginalized communities. As I have mentioned in previous blogposts the primary reason for crime is people not receiving the proper resources needed to live a decent life thus having no option but to resort to crime. The government sees this yet still doesn’t provide people with the necessities needed to live, thus proving the linkage between the government and mass incarceration of marginalized groups. Instead of prisons social wealth could be allocated towards better public education for lower-class and racially marginalized communities, subsidized housing for the homeless, and used to create well-paying jobs for the unemployed, initiatives such as these could help break this prison cycle for marginalized groups. 

Is the term prison industrial complex relevant here in so called “Canada”?  

While the term prison industrial complex is often associated with privatized prisons in the “USA” it also refers to the linkage between the government, the media, and prison, used to incarcerate the masses, all of which are present here in so called “Canada”. To really understand Canada’s prison industrial complex, it is important to note the history of prisons and imprisonment in Canada. From the start “Canada’s” prisons have been deeply oppressive to indigenous peoples in Canada, the structure of the prisons themselves aided to symbolically assert colonial sovereignty over indigenous nations territory (3). An example of early over policing in Canadas history was a prison built in Winnipeg in 1887, near this prison was a military force that was stationed in order to quell and silence the Red River Rebellion. The red river rebellion (also known as the red river resistance) was an uprising in 1869–70 led by Louis Riel and composed of primarily of the Métis nation that resisted the establishment of Canadian sovereignty (4). The first Canadian police force was formed to combat uprisings just like the red river Resistance. The police would fight along the military to quell and silence various indigenous resistances, this led to many indigenous leaders being some of the first prisoners in many federal prisons, which shows you how our prisons and systems have not changed much since the 19th century (3). In addition, the stereotype of criminality forced upon black and indigenous peoples is still a prevalent stereotype in Canada. We see this stereotype in action when we look at the population of black and indigenous peoples in Canada vs the percentage of black and indigenous peoples imprisoned. Black and indigenous peoples make up only 8.4 percent of the population in so called Canada, yet they make up 32.4 percent of people incarcerated (2). This is particularly alarming whilst looking at their white counterparts. White people make up 72.9% of the population but only make up 54.2 percent of people incarcerated in Canada. We see this stereotype of criminality forced upon black and indigenous people by the media, that then leads to over policing in black and indigenous communities, and the mass incarceration of black and indigenous peoples in Canada. This stereotype of criminality causes black and indigenous people to be more likely to serve longer sentences, be classified as higher risk, and be denied parole (3). This shows how the linkage between the government, the media, policing, and prisons is relevant in Canada and how it leads to the mass incarceration of people in marginalized communities. 

  1. Davis, A. (2015, April 18). Masked racism: Reflections on the prison industrial complex. Colorlines. Retrieved May 25, 2022, from https://www.colorlines.com/articles/masked-racism-reflections-prison-industrial-complex 
  1. Jeudy, L. (2021, July 6). Federal corrections population distribution by race Canada 2019. Statista. Retrieved May 25, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/561857/distribution-of-adult-population-in-federal-correctional-services-canada-by-race/ 
  1. The origins of Canada’s Prison Industrial Complex. Passage. (2021, April 26). Retrieved May 25, 2022, from https://readpassage.com/lesson/the-origins-of-canadas-prison-industrial-complex/ 
  1. Red River Resistance. The Canadian Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved May 25, 2022, from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/red-river-rebellion 

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