The Prison Industrial Complex: Does It Create A New Form Of Slavery? How Much Labor Is Done By Prisoners In The System?
Cold blooded utilization of Human Labor!
There are many organizations which have criticized what they see as a new structure, which exploits human beings in the United States. These organizations include Human Rights groups as well as Political and Social groups.
The complaints entail the use of the United States prison population, amounting to about two million people (many Black and Hispanic) to work for a range of industries for nickels and dimes.
For the business moguls that have participated in prison labor schemes, it is like they continuously hit the lottery.
The workers are unable to strike, there is no need to pay unemployment insurance. There is no need to cover vacation pay or workman's compensation bills.
The workers pull full-time shifts, they never arrive late for work. They also never call in absent due to family emergencies.
Even better then all this is that if the workers are not happy with their twenty five cents an hour job, they can be locked up in secluded cells.
The prison population is rising dramatically!
The United States incarcerates about two million inmates in State, Federal, and Private prisons all over the country.
There has never been an instance in the history of humanity that a country has caged so many of its own citizens.
The numbers do not lie! The United States has jailed more people than any other country on the globe. China has a population that exceeds the United States population by five times more than the United States.
Even though only five percent of the people on the planet reside in the United States, the United States confines twenty five percent of the globe's prison population.
In 1972 the United States prison population was around three hundred thousand, there was over one million incarcerated by 1990. The prison population rose to over two million by the year 2000.
There was only five private prisons in the country ten years ago holding a prison population of around two thousand. Now there are over one hundred private prisons exceeding sixty two thousand prisoners.
Within the next ten years that number will reach an astounding three hundred and sixty thousand inmates according to current trends.
Prisons, Corporate America , Shopping and You
Why have the number of prisoners increased?
What has changed in the American society in the past ten years? Why has there been such an increase of citizens incarcerated?
Private prisons subcontracting prisoners to work encourages reasons to have people locked up. These prisons have come to require the income from prison labor!
The commercial investors that make a profit off of the labor of prisoners also spend a huge amount of money to lobby for longer prison sentences, they do this to increase their labor force.
The Prison Industrial Complex provides for itself. There are some opponents of prisoner labor who compare the United States Prison Labor Camps as an imitation of the actions perpetrated by Nazi Germany, comparing the forced labor and concentration camps.
The United States Prison Industrial Complex is one of the most rapidly growing industries in the United States and the people who invest in this industry reside on Wall street.
This industry has profits in the mega millions and even holds its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, and even send out mail order and Internet catalogs.
The industry actually participates in Direct Advertising campaigns. Companies that are solicited includes construction companies, architecture companies, even investment firms on Wall street. they also solicit businesses such as plumbing supply companies, food supply companies, armed security and even padded cells in a great diversity of colors.
Privatized Prisons and Prison Labor IS Slavery
What kind of jobs do prisoners get?
As stated by many opponents, the Federal Prison Complex produces one hundred percent of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet proof vests, Identification tags, shirts, pants tents, bags and even canteens.
Not only are prisoners used to manufacture military equipment, prison workers provide ninety eight percent of the total market for equipment assembly services. They produce ninety three percent of paints and paintbrushes, ninety two percent of stove assemblies, forty six percent of body armor, thirty six percent of all home appliances, thirty percent of all microphones, headphones, and speakers, and they even manufacture twenty one percent of all office furniture.
Everything from parts for airplanes to medical supplies, prisoners produce even more than this, they are even used to train seeing eye dogs for the blind.
The history of prison labor in the United States!
The use of prisoners as units of labor has its origins in the Institution of Slavery. After the Civil War (1861-1865) an organization of hiring out prisoners was introduced to the Country to maintain the tradition of slavery.
Once the slaves aquired their Freedom, many were charged with not fulfilling their Sharecropping obligations. Sharecropping is the cultivation of the land belonging to another for a share of part of the harvest.
Many others were charged with petty theft, most cases were never proven. After being convicted these prisoners were hired out to pick cotton, or to work in the mining industry and even aiding to build the countries railway system.
Between 1870 and 1910 the State of Georgia hired out convicts that consisted of eighty eight percent of black prisoners!
The State of Alabama hired out prisoners to work in mines, ninety three percent being black!
The State of Mississippi constructed an enormous prison farm, being very similar to the older Slave Plantations except the slaves were replaced with convicts.
This infamous Parchman Plantation remained in existence until the year 1972!
DOD & the Federal Prison Industries
Who would use prison labor?
Throughout the years following the Civil War, the Jim Crow racial segregation laws were enforced in every State. The segregation of schools , housing, and even marriages as well as many other features of everyday life were affected by the Jim Crow Laws.
Jump to present time and you will notice a modern set of obvious racist laws carrying out slave labor and sweatshops within the criminal justice system, also known as the Prison Industrial Complex.
Who would invest in this kind of prison/slave labor schemes?
There are currently at least thirty seven states that have sanctioned the outsourcing of prison labor by private corporations that base their businesses within our state prison system.
The list of companies participating in this kind of labor schemes comprise some of the United States leading corporations.
IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom's, Revlon, Macy's, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, among many others.
Each and every one of these businesses are thrilled about the financial success produced by prison labor.
In the years between 1980 and 1994 the corporate profits rose from $392 million to an astounding $1.32 billion!
What kind of pay do the prisoners receive?
In some State penitentiaries the prisoners will receive the minimum wage for their labor, but not in all States. Colorado pays about two dollars an hour, ridiculously under the minimum wage.
In a private run prison, the convicts can be given as little as seventeen cents an hour for a six day work week resulting in the earnings of around twenty dollars a month!
The private prison with the highest prisoner wages is the CCA in Tennessee, prisoners there can receive fifty cents for an hours work if they are determined to be "highly skilled".
Working for these rates it is understandable why inmates would rather be incarcerated in Federal prisons, where the pay is so much higher.
In a Federal prison the convict can earn $1.25 an hour for an eight hour workday and occasionally they will even get overtime pay. This enables the prisoner to have $200 to $300 a month to send back home.
Due to the introduction of prison labor, the United States has again become an appealing location for investment in jobs that were designated for the Third World labor markets.
There are some companies that have managed assembly plants in Mexico near the border of the United states that have closed down their Mexican plants. These jobs have been transferred to San Quentin State Prison in California.
In the State of Texas, one factory laid off all of its 150 workers and contracted the labor of prisoners within the private Lockhart Texas prison. Inside this prison circuit boards are manufactured for companies like IBM and Compaq.
An Oregon representative recently advocated to the Nike company to slow down its production in Indonesia and instead bring these jobs to his State. He tried to persuade the shoemaker by explaining how much Nike could save in transporting their shoes into America, he also emphasized that the cost of labor would be about the same or less then Nike was paying their Indonesian employees.
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