Mason County’s Prison-Industrial Complex Eats Its Children

SOUL ON ICE author Eldridge Cleaver wrote, “I’m perfectly aware that I’m in prison, that I’m a Negro, that I’ve been a rapist, and that I have a Higher Uneducation.”

Inside the Cuckoo’s nest

Angela Davis called it the prison-industrial complex. America incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than any other nation. Around 25% of US black males of a certain age are in prison or the probation-corrections system at any given time.

St. Peter’s Gate

Stokley Carmichael used the term ‘white nigger’ to describe the ‘hippies’ of his day and might have agreed with some of Jerry Rubin’s sentiments when the latter observed:

“We are stealing the youth of America right out of the kindergartens and elementary schools.” After some remarks about how “America’s courts are colonial courts,” her jails “black concentration camps,” he goes on to declare that “smoking pot is a political act, and every smoker is an outlaw. The drug culture is a revolutionary threat to plastic wasp america.”

Too Much Togetherness

“Who the hell wants to “make it” in America anymore? The hippie-yippie-SDS movement is a “white nigger” movement. The American economy no longer needs young whites and blacks. We are waste material. We fulfill our destiny in life by rejecting a system which rejects us.”

A Sleeping Giant

Having exhausted an industrial-manufacturing base with outsourcing and bankrupted its service economy, America turns to consuming its environment and feeding its few remaining resources to the fire including its own citizens.

Boot Camp

Accordingly, Rubin called for widespread demonstrations near jails and court houses to “demand immediate freedom for Huey P. Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Rap Brown, all black prisoners, Timothy Leary, the Oakland Seven, all drug prisoners, all draft resisters, Benjamin Spock, … . me,” etc.

Ed Meese’s dream of a more perfect society

The Movement is dead; the Revolution is unborn. The streets are bloody and ablaze, but it is difficult to see why, and impossible to know for what end. Government on every level is ineffectual, helpless to act either in the short term or the long. The force of Army and police seems not to suppress violence, but incite it… . It is the worst of times.

Trend in American Jurisprudence

It is the best of times. The wretched of this American earth are together as they have never been before, … No march, no sit-in, no boycott ever touched so many… . The subtle methods of co-optation work no better to keep it intact than the brutal methods of repression; if it is any comfort, liberalism proves hardly more effective than fascism. Above all, there is a sense that the continuity of an age has been cut, that we have arrived at an infrequent fulcrum of history, and that what comes now will be vastly different from what went before.

American Gulag

It is not a time for reflection, but for evocation. The responsibility of the intellectual is the same as that of the street organizer, the draft resister, the Digger: to talk to people, not about them. The important literature now is the underground press, the speeches of Malcolm, the works of Fanon, the songs of the Rolling Stones and Aretha Franklin.

Evil Women?…or a Tyranny?

Julius Ceasar, in one of the earliest written descriptions of the Druids, described a society where the Gods demanded a heavy toll from their earthly followers. Human fodder was needed–and who better to pay the ultimate price than felons and thieves.

Valentine’s Day

Julius Ceasar noted of the Celts: “They believe that the execution of those who have been caught in the act of theft or robbery or some crime is more pleasing to the immortal gods but when the supply of such fails, they resort to the execution even of the innocent.”

Hotel California

especially the judicial cesspool in Washington State’s capitol county, Thurston.


Indigent defendants are hurried along in assembly line fashion into the maw of its growth industry, government and jails. Even the Nisqually have opted to cash in on the private prison/jail system bonOne could easily argue a similar analogy for today’s American criminal justice sThurston. Indigent defendants ystem, anza. Those who can afford an attorney are generally tolerated until picked clean.

Hotel Hilton

Officials in Mason County obsequiously suck up to State Prison officials in a bid for their own share of the mince meat pie.

Flesh & Steel

When the Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women opens near Belfair, it will be Mason County’s second state prison. The Washington Corrections Center at Shelton has been a quiet part of that community for more than 40 years.

Hello Dolly

Currently, the medium security men’s prison is the greater Shelton area’s largest employer — 685 employees in a 2004 survey, surpassing local icon Simpson Timber Company (sixth at 418) and the newly expanded Little Creek Casino and Resort (650).

Magical Mystery Tour

In the view of Kasey Cronquist, executive director of the Shelton-Mason County Chamber of Commerce, the prison is “a silent economic engine” that seldom crosses residents’ minds. Its location on Dayton Airport Road, well away from downtown Shelton, keeps it out of the public eye.

Field of Dreams

“People move here and have no idea it exists” said Cronquist, who spent his late childhood years in Shelton and graduated from high school there.

Hotel Shelton

Cronquist said the prison “benefits the community tremendously, both in community development and economic development.”

Mason County Hotel

Not only is it the area’s largest employer, Cronquist said, but it pays “family wages” based on a state scale. A liaison at the correction center has helped local businesses fill the prison’s needs for goods and services. In the past, an inmate woodworking shop produced street benches and other projects for city use.

Prison Japanese style

Cronquist said there is another plus factor: State funds for infrastructure come to areas with state facilities. A proposed water and sewer project for the Shelton area likely will get a financial boost from the prison’s presence, he said.

The Scream

Mason County Commissioner Tim Sheldon told an informational meeting last month in Belfair that the women’s prison may be a welcome inclusion in any future sewer system along Hood Canal. The prison is four miles up Sand Hill Road from the canal.

Modern Times

Mission Creek will have 80 inmates initially and employ about 40 people, said Superintendent James Walker. A few employees who transferred from the closing Tacoma Pre-Release Center are Kitsap County, Gig Harbor or Belfair-area residents.

Doing Time

“Some are glad to be (working) closer to home,” Walker said.


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