Most of us seem to be happy for felons to have a miserable time in Prison, but is it OK for them to be used as slaves to make other Americans rich? Sure, it is a good idea to make them earn their keep and not be on a holiday paid for by the tax payers. But!!
Is it acceptable to suspend all the normal industrial safety requirements in relation to people who are being compulsorily kept in our care. There is only one reason why this is being done: because it is cheaper that way.
It is in the nature of the beast that sometimes capitalism gets out of control and citizens have to stand up to it and demand to be treated reasonably. Our prisoners are in no position to do that, so this can be exploited by the unethical people who run many of our major corporations.
When a felon is sentenced to a term in prison he is being punished by society by loss of that most precious thing for a US citizen: Liberty. He is not being sentenced to become the sex bitch of an ex drug lord or the slave of a corporate-owning billionaire with defense contracts.
This recent article by Sarah Flounders indicates that Prisoners earning 23 cents an hour in U.S. federal prisons are manufacturing high-tech electronic components for Patriot Advanced Capability 3 missiles, launchers for TOW (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided) anti-tank missiles, and other guided missile systems.
Prison labor â€” with no union protection, overtime pay, vacation days, pensions, benefits, health and safety protection, or Social Security withholding â€” also makes complex components for McDonnell Douglas/Boeing’s F-15 fighter aircraft, the General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16, and Bell/Textron’s Cobra helicopter. Prison labor produces night-vision goggles, body armor, camouflage uniforms, radio and communication devices, and lighting systems and components for 30-mm to 300-mm battleship anti-aircraft guns, along with land mine sweepers and electro-optical equipment for the BAE Systems Bradley Fighting Vehicle’s laser rangefinder. Prisoners recycle toxic electronic equipment and overhaul military vehicles.
Labor in federal prisons is contracted out by UNICOR, previously known as Federal Prison Industries, a quasi-public, for-profit corporation run by the Bureau of Prisons. In 14 prison factories, more than 3,000 prisoners manufacture electronic equipment for land, sea and airborne communication. UNICOR is now the U.S. government’s 39th largest contractor, with 110 factories at 79 federal penitentiaries.
The majority of UNICOR’s products and services are on contract to orders from the Department of Defense. Giant multinational corporations purchase parts assembled at some of the lowest labor rates in the world, then resell the finished weapons components at the highest rates of profit. For example, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Corporation subcontract components, then assemble and sell advanced weapons systems to the Pentagon.
_The prison work is often dangerous, toxic and unprotected. At FCC Victorville, a federal prison located at an old U.S. airbase, prisoners clean, overhaul and reassemble tanks and military vehicles returned from combat and coated in toxic spent ammunition, depleted uranium dust and chemicals.
A federal lawsuit by prisoners, food service workers and family members at FCI Marianna, a minimum security women’s prison in Florida, cited that toxic dust containing lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic poisoned those who worked at UNICOR’s computer and electronic recycling factory. Prisoners there worked covered in dust, without safety equipment, protective gear, air filtration or masks. The suit explained that the toxic dust caused severe damage to nervous and reproductive systems, lung damage, bone disease, kidney failure, blood clots, cancers, anxiety, headaches, fatigue, memory lapses, skin lesions, and circulatory and respiratory problems. This is one of eight federal prison recycling facilities â€” employing 1,200 prisoners â€” run by UNICOR. After years of complaints the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General and the Federal Occupational Health Service concurred in October 2008 that UNICOR has jeopardized the lives and safety of untold numbers of prisoners and staff. (Prison Legal News, Feb. 17, 2009
The U.S. imprisons more people per capita than any country in the world. With less than 5 percent of the world population, the U.S. imprisons more than 25 percent of all people imprisoned in the world.
There are more than 2.3 million prisoners in federal, state and local prisons in the U.S. Twice as many people are under probation and parole. Many tens of thousands of other prisoners include undocumented immigrants facing deportation, prisoners awaiting sentencing and youthful offenders in categories considered reform or detention.
The racism that pervades every aspect of life in capitalist society â€” from jobs, income and housing to education and opportunity â€” is most brutally reflected by who is caught up in the U.S. prison system.
Can we still bleat about human rights and the uncompetitiveness of Chinese workers when our major corporations will stoop so low?
What do the nerds think?
Similarly tagged OmniNerd content: