Colorado Slave Labor: Tom Tancredo's Dream Come True?
Inmates Will Replace Migrants in Colorado Fields (New York Times):
As migrant laborers flee Colorado because of tough new immigration restrictions, worried farmers are looking to prisoners to fill their places in the fields.
In a pilot program run by the state Corrections Department, supervised teams of low-risk inmates beginning this month will be available to harvest the swaths of sweet corn, peppers and melons that sweep the southeastern portion of the state.
Under the program, which has drawn criticism from groups concerned about immigrants’ rights and from others seeking changes in the criminal justice system, farmers will pay a fee to the state, and the inmates, who volunteer for the work, will be paid about 60 cents a day, corrections officials said.
The director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, Ari Zavaras, is a real comedian:
“They won’t be paid big bucks, but we’re hoping this will help our inmates pick up significant and valuable job skills”
The Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition's director, Christie Donner, had this to say in response:
“This feels like the re-invention of the plantation.”
“You have a captive labor force essentially working for their room and board in order to benefit the employer. This isn’t a job training program. It’s an exploitative program.”
Unfortunately, this concept seems to be gaining acceptance elsewhere:
Although chain gangs and prison farms have long been staples of American correctional culture, the concept of inmates working on private farms is unusual. But there are signs that other states are following suit. The Iowa Department of Corrections is considering a similar program because of a migrant labor shortage in that state.
Several Iowa farmers called recently to request inmates in lieu of migrant workers, said Roger Baysden, the director of the state’s prison industries program. One farmer asked for as many as 200 inmates, Mr. Baysden said.
All ties together doesn't it:
- US notches world's highest incarceration rate (Christian Science Monitor)
- U.S.: Incarceration Rates Reveal Striking Racial Disparities (Human Rights Watch)
- Higher incarceration rates harm social stability (Stanford University)
- US Has the Most Prisoners in the World (CommonDreams.org via Reuters)
- The Prison-Industrial Complex (The Atlantic Monthly -- subscription required for more than 1st page)
- The Prison Industrial Complex: Crisis and Control (CorpWatch)
- Unfair Prisoner Counting Skews State Legislative Districting (TalkLeft)
- Displacing Prisoners: 21st Century Gerrymandering (Altar Magazine)
(cross posted at Daily Kos)