The oppressive us prison labor system

Document Type:Thesis

Subject Area:Finance

Document 1

Besides, being treated in slave like manner, prison laborers work on most occasions without pay while on average their earnings are between $0. 20 per hour that if they are held in a state prison and $0. 31 in case they are held in a federal prison (Halladay, 8). Despite their call for justice, adequate and effective solutions to the oppressive US prison labor system have not been identified especially due to the limitations resulting from the provisions of the Thirteenth Amendment to the US constitution. Background of the Oppressive US Prison Labor System and the Thirteenth Amendment Ratified in 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment made involuntary servitude and slavery unconstitutional in the United States except as punishment for crime. For example in the Louisiana State Penitentiary “Angola”, prisoners still work on the same land that slaves worked when it was still a plantation.

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The Louisiana State Penitentiary still requires incarcerated men to labor in the plantation fields. And even while, human and civil rights groups engage in championing for the freedom of the prisoners, it should not be forgotten that in prions like the Louisiana State Penitentiary, 80% of the prisoners are African American (Stahler, 678). Current State of Prison Labor in the US According to the data provided by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the prison labor industry is made of about 870,000 inmates Gramlich). The statistics further reveal that, the average hourly earnings for the prisoners is $0. Moreover, according to research findings by PEW research, there are wide racial gaps in the composition of the US prisoners. For example, at the end of 2017, in both federal and state prisons, there were about 475,900 black inmates, compared to the 436,500 white inmates and about 336,500 Hispanic inmates Gramlich).

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These figures are substantially different from the demographics of the country where in 2017, blacks made up about 12% of the total US population but 33% of the total sentenced prison population. On the other hand, the whites accounted for about 64% of the adult population but only made 30% of the prison population (Gramlich). Such disparities continue to further disenfranchise the African American population as a larger percentage of them are sent to prison compared to other races. However, given the scale and scope of the modern era or prison labor, one could probably expect that their some level of compliance with the current labor standards. On the contrary, prisoners are not fortunate to enjoy some of the protections that were secured by the labor movements nearly 100 years ago (Stahler, 672).

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Based on the employment laws, there is a critical distinction on the status of the worker as an employee. That is, if an individual is an employee, they get protection and if they are not, they don’t get the protection. In employment laws, the courts consider the relationship between the involved parties and then they asses, if the employer has adequate control over the working conditions and also if the relationship is primarily economic in nature. However, despite the value and impact that the work might have on the prisoners, its present situation is not good and could probably expose them to inhumane workplace exploitation. Besides, arguments have also been provided that fairness is achieved through compulsory labor. That is, prisoners should be able to work just like the rest of the society and pay for their room and boarding fees.

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However, the costs have not always been fairly calculated. The prisoners are left exposed to various forms of exploitation especially in cases here there is a shift of the financial burden of incarceration to the convicted and their families. Therefore, the first solution would be repeal the thirteenth amendment and do away with the clause that allows for slavery or involuntary solitude. Second, the Employment or Labor laws should be made in such a way that a minimum wage is set for prison laborers. Minimum wage for the inmates can be implemented gradually and this would make them get more value from their work (Benns). In addition, by proving a genuine wage to the prisoners, their children could also benefit who will benefit from their parents savings which increases their chances of going to college.

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