Sunday, December 5, 2010
The U.S. Prison system's dirty little secret is it's connection to providing cheap labour for private industry. For years prisons used inmate labour, on prison farms, and prison industries like making officer furniture and school desks for the states the reside in. While it is acceptable and encouraged for inmates to hold jobs and providing affordable products for use by the state, soon and quietly the scope of these industries have changed.
One state in particular has in the last 15 years become harsher in it's penal system, Arizona. The state of Arizona declared war on crime and one county and one Sheriff in particular have become famous for it's treatment and prosecution of crime. Maricopa County and the self declared toughest Sheriff in the Country,
Joe Arpaio. Sheriff Joe is currently under investigation by the US Justice Dept. for corruption.
Sheriff Joe along with the Governor of Arizona both helped pass the toughest and most questionable immigration policy in the US this spring, what is just coming to light is that law was also financially supported by the private prison industry. It seems that Arizona wants as many people as possible in it's public and private prisons.
Here is where it gets very dark, and the story that few are talking about. The other night while on the phone with my friend John in NY, we browsing the Arizona State Prison website, looking at inmate photos, crimes and sentences. The ADC website also lists where the inmates are working in the prison and how much they are making per hour. It is well established that inmates make very little, between .15 & .50 a hour working various labour jobs within the prison. So while searching we found a job called "EuroFresh". we were both curious to what that job could be, so we hit the Google and guess what we found?
"EuroFresh" is a commercial Tomato Farm, providing tomatoes to the retail and commercial food industry. Their website says nothing about prison labour. We also found another job called "Hickman Eggs", well good old "Hickman Family Farms" website is full of family farm focused marketing, ecards about eggs, and videos of what a family operation it is, but they fail to mention they use hundreds of inmates as labour.
It is of no surprise that the State of Arizona does not want migrant Mexican workers in it's agro industry when they are profiting of inmates. \why pay a migrant worker 4.00 a hour when they can pay a inmate .40 a hour?
Is the State of Arizona and others providing private business with cheap labour when unemployment is at 10%? Are Judges and prosecutors sending people to prison for small non violent offences in order to supply private agro industry with a cheap never ending supply of workers?
The largest employer in the United States is the Prison System, providing millions of workers, producing profit for large corporations. In my opinion this is creating a secret slave labour state and could implicate states in human trafficking. So next time you buy eggs or tomatos or god knows what, it just might be produced by some guy or girl who got caught with a bong.