The following is an outstanding post! It touches on the
Prison Strike that started on August 21, 2018. The article is about forced labor or involuntary servitude of prisoners who work for free or a few cents an hour. Many private companies, such as Starbucks, Microsoft and Victoria’s Secret, profit from forced labor and therefore mass incarceration. According to the post, in 2004, forced prison labor accounted for over two billion dollars worth of goods and services. I imagine today that number is markedly higher given the rise in mass incarceration.
Private companies are benefitting from cheap labor using prisoners as slaves. One argument to justify this exploitation is that it gives prisoners skills to help them get jobs when released. However, there are no studies to show these companies employ prisoners upon release. Or upon release prisoners utilize the skills learned from forced servitude.
How many prisoners have Microsoft, Victoria’s Secret or Starbucks hired?
Doesn’t this practice of forced labor reward economic exploitation and support mass incarceration?
Prisoners in 17 U.S. states went on strike on Aug. 21 by refusing to eat or work to call attention to a number of troubling issues, including dilapidated facilities, harsh sentences and other aspects of mass incarceration in America.
As we approach Labor Day, the strike places a spotlight on the questionable practice of putting prisoners to work for very low or no wages. Examples of what incarcerated people do or have done include answering customer service phone calls, fighting wildfires, packaging Starbucks coffee and producing consumer goods such as lingerie.
But this practice may run afoul of several U.S. legal commitments – including the 13th Amendment ending slavery – and even violates voluntary codes of conduct of some of the companies involved.
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