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Sweatshops Behind American Prison Bars

4 posts in this topic

So this is way America houses/imprisons all those non violent pot smokers .. Da !

Don't give me this crap that these non violent people and pot smokers broke a fricken law ! Hell I personally know a guy that is doing 6 years time for defending his wife from a would be rapist if he would not have intervened with in their own home . He beat the guys ass and put him in a hospital; the intruder never even got arrested for his intrusion or rape attempt . All the prosecutor could see is he got his ass wooped .

The state and privet Prison industrial complex is a SCAM .. It provides real cheap labor for big corporations that would normally use common labor .  

As posted at : ALTERNET  http://www.alternet.org/story/41481/a_sweatshop_behind_bars

The nation's prison industry now employs more people than any Fortune 500 corporation except General Motors. Is prison labor rehab or corporate slavery?

If you think prison inmates only make license plates, you're behind the times.

As a child Ayana Cole dreamed of becoming a world class fashion designer. Today she is among hundreds of inmates crowded in an Oregon prison factory cranking out designer jeans. For her labor she is paid 45 cents an hour. At a chic Beverly Hills boutique some of the beaded creations carry a $350 price tag. In fact the jeans labeled "Prison Blues" -- proved so popular last year that prison factories couldn't keep up with demand.

At a San Diego private-run prison factory Donovan Thomas earns 21 cents an hour manufacturing office equipment used in some of LA's plushest office towers. In Chino Gary's prison sewn T-shirts are a fashion hit.

Hundreds of prison generated products end up attached to trendy and nationally known labels like No Fear, Lee Jeans, Trinidad Tees, and other well known U.S. companies. After deductions, many prisoners like Cole and Thomas earn about $60 for an entire month of nine-hour days. In short, hiring out prisoners has become big business. And it's booming.

At CMT Blues housed at the Maximum Security Richard J. Donovan State Correctional Facility outside San Diego, the highly prized jobs pay minimum wage. Less than half goes into the inmates' pockets. The rest is siphoned off to reimburse the state for the cost of their incarceration and to a victim restitution fund.

The California Department of Corrections and CMT Blues owner Pierre Sleiman say they are providing inmates with job skills, a work ethic and income. In addition, he says prisoners offer the ultimate in a flexible and dependable work force. "If I lay them off for a week," said Sleiman, referring to his workers, "I don't have to worry about someone else coming and saying, ‘Come work for me.' "

For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold. They don't have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment, health or worker's comp insurance, vacation or comp time. All of their workers are full time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if prisoners refuse to work, they are moved to disciplinary housing and lose canteen privileges. Most importantly, they lose "good time" credit that reduces their sentence.

Today, there are over 2 million people incarcerated in the U.S., more than any other industrialized country. They are disproportionately African-American and Latino. The nation's prison industry now employees nearly three quarters of a million people, more than any Fortune 500 corporation, other than General Motors. Mushrooming construction has turned the industry into the main employer in scores of depressed cities and towns. A host of firms are profiting from private prisons, prison labor and services like transportation, farming and manufacturing.

Critics argue that inmate labor is both a potential human rights abuse and a threat to workers outside prison walls claiming, inmates have no bargaining power, are easily exploited and once released are frequently barred from gainful employment because of a felony conviction.

In one California lawsuit, for example, two prisoners have sued both their employer and the prison, saying they were put in solitary confinement after refusing to labor in unsafe working conditions. In a nutshell John Fleckner of Operation Prison Reform labels the growing trend "capitalist punishment -- slavery re-envisioned."

The prison industry is not a new phenomenon, writes Fleckner. He says mixing the profit motive with punishment only invites abuse reminiscent of one of the ugliest chapters in U.S. history. "Under a regime where more bodies equal more profits prisons take one big step closer to their historical ancestor, the slave pen."

In fact, prison labor has its roots in slavery. Following reconstruction, former Confederate Democrats instituted "convict leasing." Black inmates, mostly freed slaves convicted of petty theft, were rented out to do everything from picking cotton to building railroads. In Mississippi, a huge farm, resembling a slave plantation replaced convict leasing. The infamous Parchman Farm was not closed until 1972, when inmates brought suit against the abusive conditions in federal court.

Prison analysts say contract prison labor is poised to become one of America's most important growth industries. Many of these prisoners are serving time for non-violent crimes. With the use of tough-on-crime mandatory sentencing laws, the prison population is bursting at the seams. Some experts believe that the number of people locked up in the U.S. could double in the next 10 years. According to Prison Watch, the expansion of the number of prisoners will not only increase the pool of prison labor available for commercial profit, but also will help pay the costs of incarceration.

"The main goal of prison work programs is to provide "a positive outlet to help inmates productively use their time and energies. Another goal is to instill good work habits, including appropriate job behavior and time management, according to the Joint Venture Program of the California Department of Corrections. The program is responsible for contracting out convict labor to governments, businesses and non-profit organizations.

Federal law prohibits domestic commerce in prison-made goods unless inmates are paid "prevailing wages" but because the law doesn't apply to exports, prison officials routinely market to foreign customers.

In California the prisons themselves are their own best customers. The California Department of Corrections purchases about half of what the prisons make, choosing from an online Prison Industry Authority catalog.

Prisoners now manufacture everything from blue jeans, to auto parts, to electronics and furniture. Honda has paid inmates $2 an hour for doing the same work an auto worker would get paid $20 to $30 an hour to do. Konica has used prisoners to repair copiers for less than 50 cents an hour. Toys ‘R' Us once used prisoners to restock shelves, and Microsoft to pack and ship software. Clothing made in California and Oregon prisons competes so successfully with apparel made in Latin America and Asia that it is exported to other countries.

In most states prisoners receive little of the money they earn working either for state-run or private sector corrections firms such as the Corrections Corporations of America (CCA) and Wackenhut. The labor prisoners perform is often considerably cheaper than in the outside world. Case in point, Texas-based Lockhart Technologies closed its Austin plant and fired some 150 workers who constructed circuit boards because it could relocate those jobs to a Wackenhut-run prison where detainees did the work for minimum wage.

But even with the low pay and potential for abuse, the labor programs are popular with prisoners, says California Prison Watch, which monitors the state's prisons. "Prisoner idle time is less, they earn spending money, and they can pick up a skill."

Tony Matos, 45 convicted of robbing a Rialto liquor store says, "When we step through the gates and into the shop, it's another world. This is a company. This isn't prison. Guards still keep watch, the capitalists still profit -- the critics and supporters still debate. But in the end, I get a skill, a few coins and a ray of hope and dignity." A note to this guy Mr Tony Matos : If you think you are going to get hired by a business once you get back on the streets you are joking yourself . Most companies/business wont hire a xcon


Search U.S. prisons the new sweatshops

Or just click this link : https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=U.S.+prisons+the+new+sweatshops




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I agree CSB, slavery in the so-called land of the free.

Americans don't know what freedom is, they have never known.

Americans have shown that they are neither competent enough or deserving of governing themselves.  They are willfully ignorant and their lack of empathy for their fellow citizens makes them poor decision makers.

Global world empire with everyone becoming slaves will happen, simply because people are too stupid to stop it.

The fact is the real America is hidden in the small print at the bottom of the corporate page .

While this is going on many Americans are concerned only about shopping, mindless consumption, and watching American Idol . As citizens, they have been rendered totally useless . Fascism flourishes where citizens are inactive and uninformed . Where there is apathy there is fascism .

Most of my fellow citizens would be as angry as we are about all of this if they knew what we know . But they don't want to know, damn them! It would threaten their comfortable existence . It might even activate some spark of hidden conscience that would force them into action . And even then I doubt they would know what to do other than talk amongst themselves .

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I know what you mean, most of my family and friends simply outright state that they don't care.  As long as they can continue spending and consuming nothing matters to them. 

When the wheel of time turns and the slave-masters come out into the open I think I'll follow Rorshach's lead:

"Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"... and I'll whisper "no."

The only thing that has keeped me from being a Rorschach is that Jesus said in Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

As for family and friends ..


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Between this and the flood of cheap labor coming from Mexico it's simply part of the corporate union busting agenda. IMO.

they are desperate to get rid of them.

Edited by Radio

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