01 March, 2007

the new/old slave labor: prisoners in Colorado to replace migrant workers

the Guardian:

A decline in the number of immigrant labourers willing to work in Colorado following the introduction of stringent new laws has led authorities to explore an untapped labour pool: prison inmates.

Under a pilot programme to be launched in the early summer in Colorado's Pueblo county, farmers hope to pay inmates 60c a day to gather the watermelons, pumpkins and onions grown on the region's farmland.

But the plan has stirred up controversy on both sides of the immigration debate. "If they can't get slaves from Mexico, they want them from the jails," Mark Krikorian, of the Centre for Immigration Studies, told the Los Angeles Times.
. . .

The new law was introduced to crack down on undocumented migrants receiving state benefits they were not entitled to by making it harder to get a driving licence. But the effect has been to scare away both documented and undocumented migrants.

Few cases of undocumented migrants receiving state aid have been uncovered since the legislation came in to force.
. . .

"They've just given up and gone to other states that don't have these new laws," one farmer, Joe Pisciotta, said. "They just don't want to deal with it."
. . .

The farmers will pay the minimum wage plus any transport costs, although the inmates will only receive the standard prison wage. It is thought to be the first time that inmates will leave prison to work in private industry.

The state's prison authorities hope that the experiment will help to reduce recidivism. "We think that we can provide an opportunity for employment for people in the prison system, and help them to develop some work skills," said representative Dorothy Butcher, who initiated the plan.
The article doesn't mention who pockets the difference between the minimum wage & the $0.60/day. Nor should it be giving the last word to the plan's author, with the old baloney about reducing recidivism and developing "work skills" through picking "watermelons, pumpkins and onions."

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Blogger Man Eegee said...

Effing Hell!

2:10 PM  

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