Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019
Social Security, Slavery, etc.
The Social Security System; You work, you pay into it all your working life, and then when you turn 65 you get a monthly check from the government, right? That’s what people think, but there’s a catch. I worked all my life, paid into Social Security, but now I can’t collect a penny. I’m 71 years old now, probably 72 by the time you read this, and that money would sure make my life easier. But when Congress wrote the Social Security Act, they inserted a clause exempting prison inmates from collecting. I paid in like a good citizen, and now when I need it, it’s unavailable to me. I was astonished to learn this when I turned 65. What does being in prison have to do with my previous work history? I think it’s criminal on the part of the government to deny benefits to someone imprisoned when their crime has nothing to do with their previous work history. I paid their damned self-employment tax every year that I was a freelance photographer/writer, often scrimping on things to come up with the money, and now they tell me, “that’s tough, we have no money for you.”
On a related point, slavery is illegal in the U.S.A., right? It was outlawed by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, wasn’t it? Go back and read what that 1865 Amendment actually says. It reads: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”. So, since I’m being punished for a crime whereof I was “duly convicted,” I’m legally a slave. I’ve lost my right to vote, and many of the other rights a citizen enjoys. Legally condoned slavery, in 2018 in America! Isn’t it long past time to change this? Changing the Constitution is very difficult, and for good reason, but this antiquated vestige of the “Civil War” should go.
I believe it’s time for a major overhaul of the US Government and state governments that would purge these antiquated laws from our books. You hear politicians giving lip service to “criminal justice reform” and similar catchy phrases, but nobody is doing anything except talking. Everyone knows the system is broken and gets worse every year, but no politicians dare really try to fix the problems, lest they be tarred with the label, “soft on crime.”. As retired senator Jim Webb said, something is very wrong when the US has the largest per capita prison population in the world. Either we have the worst people on Earth, or the system has run amok.
How can we fix things when legislatures, both state and national, are more concerned with their petty partisan squabbles than with the wellbeing of our country? Maybe things will change with the midterm elections, but I really don’t hold much hope.
About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here:https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-the-token-photo-sets/
Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.