Re: Cheap labor

1

No, it's not OK. If they're working, minimum wage laws should apply.

As far as whether the program affects recidivism, corrections officials say they don't have hard numbers

Yeah, why would you want to collect data on the effectiveness of corrections policy? That's for losers.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 11:02 AM
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2

What, you want to deny inmates their agency when it comes to volunteering? Why can't they think globally, act locally?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 11:14 AM
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3

Agree with 1.1. Inmates should not be cheap labor, especially when the task is dangerous.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 11:16 AM
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4

I'm not sure "volunteering" in prison is nearly as much an act of free will as it would be outside, for many reasons. Don't IRBs now have a lot of constraints on how one may select volunteers from prisons?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 11:17 AM
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5

Aren't we all prisoners in our own way? And yet we don't make time to fight fires. And yet you criticize those that do.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 11:21 AM
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6

It'd be easier to be outraged about this except that there is tons of other prison labor that pays way way way less than minimum wage, and the firefighting sounds like a lot more fun. I mean obviously comment 1 is correct, but if you're in a second-best world to begin with I don't have much problem with being a firefighter instead of making license plates or just waiting around to be raped.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 11:35 AM
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7

If I volunteer to fight fires, will they let me out of my existential prison for a few hours?


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 11:35 AM
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8

Outward bound for wayward adults?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 11:42 AM
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9

7: It's not an electro-shock device.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 11:42 AM
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10

Maybe MAE could fight power lines? Tilt at them?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 11:43 AM
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11

Worth reading about UNICOR. Also here, or here. You can make between $.38 and $1.23/hour while serving time!! (before deductions for restitution payments and other costs). Just a huge industry; it makes a huge portion of the clothes worn by US soldiers, for example.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 11:45 AM
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12

9: Use of an electro-shock device would risk setting fire to the dry underbrush, which would be counterproductive to our firefighting efforts.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 11:46 AM
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13

It seems like it would be bad PR to have a huge portion of the clothes worn by US soldiers made by slave labor, but I guess not.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 11:47 AM
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14

Do they have suicide missions for prisoners on death row? Could solve the lethal injection problem too!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 11:47 AM
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15

10: Fight the power lines! Fight the power lines! Fight the power lines that be!


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 11:48 AM
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16

12: Setting smaller, controlled fires is an important part of firefighting.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 11:49 AM
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17

7: that is how some smokejumpers have described it. Even when getting paid.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 11:57 AM
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18

$2/hr is high for prison labor. They got a raise in MA a while ago (hadn't had one since the 30's), but I think that it's still less than $1.

What makes it especially awful is that they are way overcharged for the things they buy. A typewriter ribbon is close to $30.00


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 12:33 PM
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19

What makes it especially awful is that they are way overcharged for the things they buy. A typewriter ribbon is close to $30.00

Are they given typewriters?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 12:37 PM
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20

My son is working this summer as a laborer at the county fairgrounds, and they have a number of folks there on work-release. Apparently, they get a 50% reduction in what they have to pay to stay in jail.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 12:44 PM
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21

It'd be easier to be outraged about this except that there is tons of other prison labor that pays way way way less than minimum wage, and the firefighting sounds like a lot more fun.

Well, yeah (with the caveat that fighting wildfires is seriously dangerous). My complaint is with how prison labour works in general, not with this programme specifically. Though as 4 says I'm also not sure we should consider this volunteering for any ethical purposes.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 12:57 PM
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22

When I worked for the State in Ohio, all our furniture was made in the prison.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 1:01 PM
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23

18: Is there special prison-approved consumer electronics (TVs with clear plastic shells) or something? I assume the markup on those items is unreal, maybe the same for the typewriter ribbon?


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 1:21 PM
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19: I think you have to buy one. The prisoner I mentored through college had one for his papers. TVs are a fortune too.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 1:25 PM
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23: Actually, he got a flat screen or something and gave one of the members of his mentoring team a clear plastic CRT one where you could see all the wires. It was actually kind of cool.

And to clarify. Nobody can send you a typewriter; you have to buy it at the company store. You can send books.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 1:27 PM
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26

I was quite surprised, during my time working in California's uncompensated correctional labor force, by the scale and difficulty of the labor that people sentenced to community service are sent to do. There is a lot of picking up trash on the freeway, but the officers are pretty good at judging people who are willing to work hard - it makes the time go faster - and able to handle relatively demanding physical tasks. We certainly did things like cutting preventive firebreaks, although presumably for a job like firefighting that requires training they would use longer term prisoners who they could rely on for more than six hours of work. If I remember right, a team of fifteen workers cost $400 for a day, and was available to any public institution. (so colleges, VA hospitals, city parks, etc.)


Posted by: Richard Nixon | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 1:34 PM
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27

I always liked that the inmate work gangs had to wear jumpsuits that said "CDC PRISONER". I sort of wanted one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 1:51 PM
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23: yes, e.g. there's a radio that's sought out by some category of nerds because... I forget why. It does something that otherwise vanished with transistorization, or something.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 2:03 PM
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The SRF-39FP radio.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 2:06 PM
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30

There was a very nice gift shop associated with the prison (in Thomaston, ME) that was the inspiration for "The Shawshank Redemption." Everything sold in it was made by the prisoners. They had a lot of well-made woodworking stuff: ship models, cutting boards, etc. It closed five or so years ago.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 2:08 PM
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31

I am now reevaluating those gangs of goats munching on dry brush and grass in the East Bay hills. I always thought they were cute, but I never realized they could be on work furlough. Goat crimes and misdemeanors.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 2:08 PM
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32

That was a lovely gift shop. Handsome prison, too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 2:08 PM
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33

two separate yet equally important goats


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 2:29 PM
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34

That was interesting about the radio. I carry a small, transparent!, fm set for secure doc review spaces, shattered and taped together numerous times.

I'm a long-time DXer, and I'll bet there'd be a lot of finds in prison at night.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 07-29-14 4:04 PM
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