Discover more from Just Impact
Yes, slavery is still legal in the U.S. But pressure is building to change that
Forced prison labor is constitutional under the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery except for people convicted of a crime. Yes, forced labor is slavery! In Louisiana, organizers put a very fine point on it - their campaign is called the End Plantation Prisons Project. Nationally, organizers with the End the Exception campaign are working to upend this practice and require that people be paid fair wages for work in prison. Last year, California legislators rejected a plan to pay prisoners a minimum wage, after the governor cited the large cost. If the state must rely on the slavery exception to make prison budgets work, that should be a big red flag.
Opponents may claim that working in prison teaches valuable skills for the outside, so it benefits the worker in prison. However, as Aaron Kinzer’s recent piece reminds us, that only holds true if people can reliably get work on the outside using those skills, which doesn’t pan out. Meanwhile, companies and states make vast profits from prison labor, incentivizing their continued incarceration and devastating families that have been left behind.
To get smart on this, read this great rundown in Truthout. This issue seems to be gaining momentum, and is one to keep your eye on.
(Photo is from the Intercept)
Thanks for reading Just Impact! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.