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It benefits the people in power. It benefits corporations who need cheap exploitable labor, or directly profit from the operation of the prison industry. It forces people into low paying menial jobs that keep large companies profitable. It serves a political purpose by scapegoating and marginalizing minorities. It fills the pockets of politicians who help to expand the system and cater to the military-industrial complex that perversely feeds on inequality. I don't think there is a system of oppression or economic control in existence that doesn't benefit somebody, directly or indirectly.

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