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Thread: The Real Threat To Living Wages: Prison Labor

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    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    The Real Threat To Living Wages: Prison Labor

    American slavery was technically abolished in 1865, but a loophole in the 13th Amendment has allowed it to continue “as a punishment for crimes” well into the 21st century. Not surprisingly, corporations have lobbied for a broader and broader definition of “crime” in the last 150 years. As a result, there are more (mostly dark-skinned) people performing mandatory, essentially unpaid, hard labor in America today than there were in 1830.

    The vast majority – 86 percent – of prisoners have been locked up for non-violent, victimless crimes, many of them drug-related.

    While prison labor helps produce goods and services for almost every big business in America, here are a few examples from an article that highlights the epidemic:

    Whole Foods – You ever wonder how Whole Foods can afford to keep their prices so low (sarcasm)? Whole Foods’ coffee, chocolate and bananas might be “fair trade,” but the corporation has been offsetting the “high wages” paid to third-world producers with not-so-fair-wages here in America.

    The corporation, famous for it’s animal welfare rating system, apparently was not as concerned about the welfare of the human “animals” working for them in Colorado prisons until April of this year.

    You know that $12-a-pound tilapia you thought you were buying from “sustainable, American family farms?” It was raised by prisoners in Colorado, who were paid as little as 74 cents a day. And that fancy goat cheese? The goats were raised and milked by prisoners too.

    McDonald’s – The world’s most successful fast food franchise purchases a plethora of goods manufactured in prisons, including plastic cutlery, containers, and uniforms. The inmates who sew McDonald’s uniforms make even less money by the hour than the people who wear them.

    Wal-Mart – Although their company policy clearly states that “forced or prison labor will not be tolerated by Wal-Mart,” basically every item in their store has been supplied by third-party prison labor factories. Wal-Mart purchases its produce from prison farms, where laborers are often subjected to long hours in the blazing heat without adequate food or water.

    Victoria’s Secret – Female inmates in South Carolina sew undergarments and casual-wear for the pricey lingerie company. In the late 1990’s, two prisoners were placed in solitary confinement for telling journalists that they were hired to replace “Made in Honduras” garment tags with “Made in USA” tags.

    AT&T – In 1993, the massive phone company laid off thousands of telephone operators—all union members—in order to increase their profits. Even though AT&T’s company policy regarding prison labor reads eerily like Wal-Mart’s, they have consistently used inmates to work in their call centers since ’93, barely paying them $2 a day.

    BP (British Petroleum) – When BP spilled 4.2 million barrels of oil into the Gulf coast, the company sent a workforce of almost exclusively African-American inmates to clean up the toxic spill while community members, many of whom were out-of-work fisherman, struggled to make ends meet. BP’s decision to use prisoners instead of hiring displaced workers outraged the Gulf community, but the oil company did nothing to reconcile the situation.

    *Snip*

    In places like Texas, however, prison work is mandatory and unpaid – the literal definition of slave labor.

    According the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, prisoners start their day with a 3:30 a.m. wake-up call and are served breakfast at 4:30 a.m. All prisoners who are physically able are required to report to their work assignments by 6 a.m.

    “Offenders are not paid for their work, but they can earn privileges as a result of good work habits,” the website says.

    *Snip*

    Similar “prison farms” exist in Arizona, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio and other states, where prisoners are forced to work in agriculture, logging, quarrying and mining. Wikipedia says while the agricultural goods produced on prison farms is generally used to feed prisoners and other wards of the state (orphanages and asylums) they are also sold for profit.

    In addition to being forced to labor directly for the profit of the government, inmates may be “farmed out” to private enterprises, through the practice of convict leasing, to work on private agricultural lands or related industries (fishing, lumbering, etc.). The party purchasing their labor from the government generally does so at a steep discount from the cost of free labor.
    This is appalling, and few Americans even know it's occurring.
    Thanks from Babba, Kontrary, Thx1138 and 2 others

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    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    The prison industrial complex has a voracious appetite for more bodies:



    It was Bill & Hillary Clinton, more than anyone else, who poured gasoline on this fire.

    As of now, businesses are profiting from prison labor in BILLIONS, and the profit from the prisons themselves. The 2016 Hillary Clinton POTUS campaign was marred by her proposal to expand the use of technology, like ankle monitors, to "serve your time at home" without disclosing that she has ties to the companies poised to profit off that aspect of the penal system.

    The prisoners are doing drug trials as well. They are being dumped back onto the street when they age and sicken, so the government can avoid the cost of caring for them as they lay dying.

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    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    All this, and more, is explained in the documentary "13th", available free on YouTube. This is the trailer:

    http://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/...1e481fb18b.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Madeline View Post
    This is appalling, and few Americans even know it's occurring.
    Ms. Madeline,

    You know what I always say:

    Don't do the crime if you can't do the time
    Don't do it
    Don't roll the dice if you can't pay the price,
    Don't do it

  5. #5
    Southern Strategy Liberal OldGaffer's Avatar
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    This has been going on for the last 150 years.

    Thanks from Ian Jeffrey, birdzeyez and Madeline

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    Southern Strategy Liberal OldGaffer's Avatar
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    The Judicial System
    In order to allow for the convict lease system to exist, and for blacks to be reduced to their former state as a labor source, it required purposeful laws aimed at limiting the rights of "newly freed" blacks. The object was to criminalize black life to the point where blacks could be imprisoned on the most frivolous of offenses. Such laws took the form of "Black Codes."
    To understand the creation of Black Codes, it is necessary to understand the social order that motivated elites to push for such legislation. North Carolina is a prime example. After the war, the elite would have preferred a return to the status quo that existed under the slave system, yet this was not possible due to the liberation of blacks created by the destruction of the slave system. This problem was greatly exacerbated by the fact that, "in suppressing the war to dissolve the Union, the whites were deprived of arms while many Negroes had easily obtained them;" thus, "A general feeling of insecurity on the part of the whites" resulted. [9] Armed blacks were viewed as an immediate threat to elite interests as they now possessed the ability to defend and protect themselves - in other words, blacks were able to ensure they would not be re-enslaved. Furthermore, it presented a problem to the overall white power structure, as having weapons would empower blacks to stand up for themselves and assert their rights not only as Americans but also as human beings; and such a situation brought the memories and worries of a slave revolt back to the forefront of the minds of elites.
    To put blacks back 'in their place,' the elite pushed several laws that were passed in the state legislature, such as defining "a Negro as any person of African descent, although one ancestor to the fourth generation might be white." [10] The fact that racial identity was dependent on the mother rather than the father made the situation all the worse for blacks who had white fathers - whether by marriage or by rape - as they were now considered to be black and thus would be subject to the worst aspects of living within a white supremacist society, and with little recourse.
    Slavery By Another Name: The Convict Lease System I The Hampton Institute

    This is a time honored tradition in the red states....
    Thanks from Madeline

  7. #7
    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldGaffer View Post
    This has been going on for the last 150 years.

    Not like it has since the 1990's. Refer to the chart in the Op again.

    One in THREE black men in America will be imprisoned in his lifetime now, 80% for nonviolent drug crimes.
    Last edited by Madeline; 2nd March 2017 at 03:28 PM.

  8. #8
    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldGaffer View Post
    Slavery By Another Name: The Convict Lease System I The Hampton Institute

    This is a time honored tradition in the red states....
    It's all over. Ohio has a HUGE private prison system, and is a leader in criminalizing poverty itself.

  9. #9
    Cat-tastic Babba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madeline View Post
    The prison industrial complex has a voracious appetite for more bodies:



    It was Bill & Hillary Clinton, more than anyone else, who poured gasoline on this fire.

    As of now, businesses are profiting from prison labor in BILLIONS, and the profit from the prisons themselves. The 2016 Hillary Clinton POTUS campaign was marred by her proposal to expand the use of technology, like ankle monitors, to "serve your time at home" without disclosing that she has ties to the companies poised to profit off that aspect of the penal system.

    The prisoners are doing drug trials as well. They are being dumped back onto the street when they age and sicken, so the government can avoid the cost of caring for them as they lay dying.

    I'm going to nice and simply state that you're being misleading.

    On the campaign trail, Clinton said that "we should end private prisons and private detention centers."

    But it's tough talk that could prove difficult to enact as presidential policy, involving issues of federalism, since many of the private prisons around the country are under state and local contracts, and legislative efforts to change current laws that would be opposed by the status quo support for private prisons.
    Wolf said either Clinton or Sanders could also encourage Congress to enact legislation to end federal private prisons. However, most of the inmates held in private prisons are from states, so there is not much the federal government could do to directly abolish private prisons.

    Federal money does flow to state criminal justice systems in the form of grants, Wolf said, and the 1994 Crime Bill, which both Clinton and Sanders supported, is an example of this. Prohibitions on using federal money for private prisons at the state level could be attached to those grants, but that does not mean states won't fund private prisons from state tax dollars.
    A billion-dollar-plus industry Clinton may sentence to death

    Also, when I google "Hillary Clinton has ties to ankle monitor companies", only right wing links show up.
    Thanks from birdzeyez and Ian Jeffrey

  10. #10
    Cat-tastic Babba's Avatar
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    I have always been opposed to using prison labor for anything more than maintaining prison facilities. And while I don't think prisoners should make as much as a non-prison person would doing things such as laundry or cooking, etc., I think they should earn more than merely covering their living expenses while incarcerated.

    The biggest reason I'm opposed to prison labor is that they're doing jobs that need to be done. And if those jobs really need to be done, why don't we hire people at a living wage to do those jobs?
    Thanks from Madeline, Thx1138 and Ian Jeffrey

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