US prisoners’ strike is reminder how commonplace inmate labor is – and that it may run afoul of the law

Prison inmate Kevin Black is among thousands of convicted felons who form the backbone of California’s wildfire protection force. Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

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?


Author: Angela Grant

Angela Grant is a medical doctor. For 22 years, she practiced emergency medicine and internal medicine. She studied for one year at Harvard T. H Chan School Of Public Health. She writes about culture, race, and health.

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