Prison Reform Work

Prison facilities and wages – Prison Labor Reform as COVID 19 highlights these needs
I. Ethical Problem:
Need a captive labor force to manufacture PPE for healthcare workers and frontline responders. US and their practices of paying next-to-nothing for incarcerated labor alongside no labor protections laws makes these practices comparable to modern-day slavery.
• Missouri Prisoners: $0.30 to $0.71 an hour to produce PPE and hand sanitizer (
• Louisiana Prisoners: $0.40 for hand sanitizer and cloth masks (
• Arkansas Prisoners: $0.00 Compensation for masks, healthcare supplies, medical (
• California Prisoners: $0.35 for healthcare supplies ((‘ target=”_blank”> Paragraph 4)
• Certain States, such as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, and Texas, do not pay wages for medical supplies.
• New York Prisoners: $0.16 for hand sanitizer

II. Analysis:
• Labor Standards
o Prisoners are not protected by Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
David W. Harker Case
 Under the 29 U.S.C. § 201 act, it has several statements under legislation stating “standard of living necessary for health, efficiency, and general well-being of workers.” (‘ target=”_blank”>‘ target=”_blank”>‘ target=”_blank”> – Section II)
 Even further, shouldn’t the act be applied due to prevention of unfair competition in commerce? No. Because it presupposes that inmates in SUI-type programs should be considered employees for FSLA purposes in the first place ( – Section II)

o 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution
 The Amendment ratified in 1865. It made slavery and involuntary servitude unconstitutional in the United States “except as punishment for crime.”
o Rebuttals
 Reasoning: work was preformed, “as a means for rehabilitation and job training” ( – section I)
 Forcing states to pay minimum wage to every inmate involved in an SUI-type program would dramatically escalate costs and could well force correctional systems to curtail or terminate these programs altogether ( – section IV)
 PIECP (Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program) was created by Congress in 1979 and aimed to place inmates in a realistic work environment and pay them the prevailing local wage for similar work (
 Reasoning: They will end up doing the same work as what they did in prison.


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