Prison Reform Work

Prison facilities and wages – Prison Labor Reform as COVID 19 highlights these needs
https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/covid-19-highlights-need-prison-labor-reform
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 (https://wgem.com/2020/03/31/missouri-governor-provides-updates-on-covid-19-response/)
• Louisiana Prisoners: $0.40 for hand sanitizer and cloth masks (https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/coronavirus/article_98081a40-74ea-11ea-b367-2774f5090b74.html)
• Arkansas Prisoners: $0.00 Compensation for masks, healthcare supplies, medical (https://www.eldoradonews.com/news/2020/apr/02/state-prisoners-manufacturing-masks/)
• California Prisoners: $0.35 for healthcare supplies ((https://theintercept.com/2016/12/28/california-blames-incarcerated-workers-for-unsafe-conditions-and-amputations/‘ target=”_blank”>https://theintercept.com/2016/12/28/california-blames-incarcerated-workers-for-unsafe-conditions-and-amputations/ Paragraph 4)
• Certain States, such as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, and Texas, do not pay wages for medical supplies.
(https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2020-04-21/states-are-putting-prisoners-to-work-manufacturing-coronavirus-supplies)
• New York Prisoners: $0.16 for hand sanitizer
(https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-prison-labor-hand-sanitizer-masks-2020-4)

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.” (https://casetext.com/case/harker-v-state-use-industries‘ target=”_blank”>https://casetext.com/case/harker-v-state-use-industries‘ target=”_blank”>https://casetext.com/case/harker-v-state-use-industries‘ target=”_blank”>https://casetext.com/case/harker-v-state-use-industries – 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 (https://casetext.com/case/harker-v-state-use-industries – 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” (https://casetext.com/case/harker-v-state-use-industries – 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 (https://casetext.com/case/harker-v-state-use-industries – 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 (https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bja/203483.pdf).
 Reasoning: They will end up doing the same work as what they did in prison.
(https://confluence.gallatin.nyu.edu/context/interdisciplinary-seminar/prison-labor-in-the-united-states)

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