Debate Magazine

21st Century Chain Gangs

Posted on the 27 April 2012 by Mikeb302000
21st Century Chain Gangs via Salon
Sweatshop labor is back with a vengeance. It can be found across broad stretches of the American economy and around the world.  Penitentiaries have become a niche market for such work.  The privatization of prisons in recent years has meant the creation of a small army of workers too coerced and right-less to complain.
Prisoners, whose ranks increasingly consist of those for whom the legitimate economy has found no use, now make up a virtual brigade within the reserve army of the unemployed whose ranks have ballooned along with the U.S. incarceration rate.  The Corrections Corporation of America and G4S (formerly Wackenhut), two prison privatizers, sell inmate labor at subminimum wages to Fortune 500 corporations like Chevron, Bank of America, AT&T and IBM.
These companies can, in most states, lease factories in prisons or prisoners to work on the outside.  All told, nearly a million prisoners are now making office furniture, working in call centers, fabricating body armor, taking hotel reservations, working in slaughterhouses or manufacturing textiles, shoes and clothing, while getting paid somewhere between 93 cents and $4.73 per day.
I suppose the death penalty lovers and all the those who disparage criminals as goblins and scumbags will have no problem with this. But, what do you others think?
Is this an indication of even deeper problems ahead of us with the private prison business? Wouldn't this kind of slave-labor damage the already fragile economy and increase the unemployment figures even further?
What do you think?  Please leave a comment.

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