- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Monday, January 17, 2011

Private Prisons are forced labour camps

One of the reasons I'm so anti private prisons (who may or may not fund the Sensible Sentencing Trust) and the expansion of corporations imprisoning people is that the prisons themselves become forced labour camps...

Prison Labor: Who Stands to Profit in USA's Most Important Growth Industry?

Prison labor is poised to become one of America's most important growth industries. Over 3/4 of a million incarcerated are currently employed, more than any Fortune 500 business. Is this a benefit to the imprisoned, or just another opportunity for greed?

If you still believe that prisoners are only in the business of producing license plates, guess again. Private corporations are making a killing employing prisoners across the US. They are hiring the incarcerated to manufacture everything from designer jeans to computer circuit boards.

Inmate Ayana Cole always dreamed of being a fashion designer. Now imprisoned in Oregon, she is paid .45 cents an hour to turn out "prison blues" jeans. The designer denims are sold in high end Beverly Hills boutiques, carrying price tags upwards of $350.00. Demand for the bead encrusted jeans is so high, the company can barely keep up with the demand.
Donovan Thomas earns .21 cents per hour manufacturing high end office equipment which can be found in some of Los Angeles most plush office suites.

For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold. They don't have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment, health or worker's comp insurance, vacation or comp time. All of their workers are full time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if prisoners refuse to work, they are moved to disciplinary housing and lose canteen privileges. Most importantly, they lose "good time" credit that reduces their sentence.

Honda has paid inmates $2.00 per hour to do the same work they would have been required to pay auto workers $20 to $30 per hour to complete. Konica has used prisoners to repair copy machines at less that .50 cents per hour. Toys R Us has used prisoners in the past to restock shelves, and Microsoft has employed them to pack and ship software. Lockhart Technologies recently closed its Austin plant and fired some 150 workers. It realized it could relocate those jobs manufacturing circuit boards to a Wackenhut-run prison where detainees did the work for minimum wage.

Supporters of the private sector using the incarcerated in the production of various goods and services indicate that are assisting the inmates in leading more productive lives.

"The main goal of prison work programs is to provide "a positive outlet to help inmates productively use their time and energies. Another goal is to instill good work habits, including appropriate job behavior and time management, according to the Joint Venture Program of the California Department of Corrections. The program is responsible for contracting out convict labor to governments, businesses and non-profit organizations.

Experts believe that the number of persons incarcerated in the US could double in the next 10 years. There are currently over 2 million people in prison, more that any industrialized nation. Those incarcerated are disproportionately African-American and Latino. With the use of tough-on-crime mandatory sentencing in effect today, US prisons are already bursting at the seams. Proponents indicate these labor programs are necessary to fund the cost of incarceration, as well as increasing the availability of reliable labor to public and private corporations.

Critics of the programs take a totally different stance, citing the potential for abuse, as well as the impact such programs will have on the workers outside these prison facilities. They point out the fact that inmates have no voice in when they work or what they are paid, and are thus easily exploited. They voice a strong concern that increasing this trend is going to open the doors to human rights abuse if not closely monitored.

Federal law prohibits domestic commerce in prison-made goods unless inmates are paid "prevailing wages". The law doesn't apply to exports, however, so prison officials routinely market to foreign customers. Clothing manufactured in prisons in California and Oregon competes strongly with that manufactured in Latin America.

Critics concerns are not unfounded. Prison labor has it's roots in slavery.
Following reconstruction, former Confederate Democrats instituted "convict leasing." Black inmates, mostly freed slaves convicted of petty theft, were rented out to do everything from picking cotton to building railroads. In Mississippi, a huge farm, resembling a slave plantation replaced convict leasing. The infamous Parchman Farm was not closed until 1972, when inmates brought suit against the abusive conditions in federal court.

...but that's America right? We wouldn't allow Private Prisons to become forced labour camps in NZ! We would never allow the warped hatred of the Sensible Sentencing Trust (who may or may not be receiving funding from the Private Prison Industry) to twist social policy so much that we are sending thousands of NZers to be double bunked in corrupt, violent and under resourced prisons only to become forced labour camps???

Oh yes we would...

Prisoners to work for victim fund - National
More prisoners will have to work under a National government, and the money they earn will go towards a victims' fund. Those who refuse will lose their right to parole. National leader John Key announced plans to boost work and rehabilitation schemes yesterday, and confirmed it would allow the private sector to run prisons again. Mr Key said a National government would spend $7 million a year boosting the number of inmates in industry-based work from 2500-3500 by the end of 2011.
Mr Key said prisoners were usually paid between 20c and 60c an hour but were charged out at market labour rates.

So we enter the time of the corporate Gulag, Prisoners forced to work at what is effectively slave labour, our social policy has been warped into this abortion, exactly as it has been in America with the same vested interests of longer prison sentences and larger prison slave work force by corporations that are focused on their profit margin NOT the wider social impact on society.

Private Prisons don’t give a toss about rehabilitation, they care only for longer sentences (meaning the prisoners stay longer, meaning they get more money to hold them) and while holding them they get to implement prison labour as a cheap workforce.

By allowing the Private Prison Industry to infect social policy and warp it for their commercial interests, National have played to the snarling scream of the lynch mob who have been wound up by a mainstream media whose myopic focus on crime creates only heat with no light.

Canada is seeing the same bullshit 'law and order' mantra to build more prisons even though their crime rate is actually falling!

The privatization of incarceration is an abomination for society. It's as simple as that. We need to rehabilitate prisoners, not dehumanize them further.


At 18/1/11 5:30 am, Blogger Bob Sloan said...

This use of slave labor in the U.S. is more and more coming under fire by activists and advocates.

Unfortunately the corporations and their central core, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) http://www.alec.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=History&Template=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=13643 who are responsible for creating this situation in the U.S. (through proposing and funding 3 strike, mandatory minimum, truth in sentencing and such other harsh Crimes) on behalf of their corporate partners and supporters have recently doubled their efforts overseas. ALEC's number one partners in privatized corrections, CCA and Geo Group now own or operate prisons in Germany, UK, Australia and now New Zealand is coming under their influence.

Please visit www.piecp-violations.com to better understand the corporations involved, the U.S. PIECP program that is allowing the use of prisoners as slave labor for U.S. corporations.

Bob Sloan
Prison Industry Consultant

At 18/1/11 9:38 am, Blogger Gosman said...

Does this mean it is preferable that Prisoners are not used in any productive activity while incarcerated?

At 18/1/11 1:12 pm, Blogger Bomber said...

Does this mean it is preferable that Prisoners are not used in any productive activity while incarcerated?

Only a right wing fool could come to that conclusion after reading this post.

At 19/1/11 12:33 am, Blogger so you tell me said...

How can a public debt to society be repaid to a private corporation.

At 16/1/12 7:31 am, Blogger Melanie Simms said...

Thank you for this eye-opening arguement. I too have begun feeling this way the more that I read about the overpopulation of prisons in America; its gotten out of hand. Instead stupid mistakes are being made like releasing violent criminals accidently instead of focusing on rehabilitating the prison programs world-wide.
Its good to have labor- to keep a prisoner feeling productive- its good therapy BUT not when it becomes an industry theirein lies the dangers for abuse, slavery and wide spread corruption. I will have more faith in my country and its leaders when it starts releasing minor criminals into the hands of probation officers and forced therapy, instead of hard prisons amongst the worst of the worst.


Post a Comment

<< Home