Prison system and Judges

One of the individuals that Howard Zinn focus on is the prisoner. Zinns introduces that “The prison was intended, through isolation, to produce repentance and salvation, but prisoners went insane and died in that isolation.” Original purpose of making prison is to help people who committed crime to relieve the sins, but it has made prisoner went crazy. In 1950s, there were more than 50 riots because prisoners could not stand the punishment and the condition of living in the prison. Eventually, the prisoners started rebellions, they took over the prison and took hostage. It was a chaos during that period. Howard Zinn mentions this because it was the beginning of prison system.


With such power in the hands of the courts, the poor, the black, the odd, the homosexual, the hippie, the radical are not likely to get equal treatment before judges who are almost uniformly white, upper middle class, orthodox.

Another individuals in the 1960s to 1970s is the judges. All the judges in that era were white people, and they are holding too much power. Different judges can decide a case totally differently. For example, there were 673 people drunk in public, and 531 people did not get punished by the decision of one judge. However, when transferring the case to another judge, there was only ONE person did not get punished with the same crime they committed. Moreover, the people who committed the crime were poor and low class. Even if the riches got caught and committed crime, they could still get out of it because they could use money to be bailed. Howard Zinn includes this history because different classes were treated so differently. In that period, if you have the money, you can be the King.