During the prison construction boom of the 1980s and 1990s, many economically depressed, rural towns hoped that prisons would jump start their local economies. New York’s prison population has tripled since 1980 and a disproportionate number of those incarcerated are black and Latino folks from just a few New York City neighborhoods.
Over 90% of New York’s prisons are located in rural areas, but prison towns have not seen the promised jobs or prison-related improvements. State legislators and Governors have favored the Department of Correctional Services while neglecting farmers. Today, dairy farmers in rural areas are selling their herds, forgoing needed farm improvements, or even shutting down.
Milk Not Jails is an economic alternative to the prison industry. We are a dairy marketing and distribution co-operative and we are a political campaign building an alliance for a sustainable and just regional economy. We are building a regional economy that depends on bringing city residents local, healthy food, not locking them up.
We know that imprisonment hurts communities. Increased incarceration undermines local networks, increases crime and juvenile delinquency, and causes a decrease in everything from public health to housing values to political participation. And we know that dairy farms need help from consumers and policy-makers to succeed.
Demand a new urban-rural relationship.