Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Privatization Kills: Detainees Are Slave Labor in Private Prisons

Erik Loomis asks: What 13th Amendment?

Outstanding Ian Urbina story on the exploitation of people held in immigrant detention centers. The immigration detention system serves as a nearly unpaid labor force thanks to the privatized prison companies controlling the prisons:

SNIP
Last year, at least 60,000 immigrants worked in the federal government’s nationwide patchwork of detention centers — more than worked for any other single employer in the country, according to data from United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE. The cheap labor, 13 cents an hour, saves the government and the private companies $40 million or more a year by allowing them to avoid paying outside contractors the $7.25 federal minimum wage. Some immigrants held at county jails work for free, or are paid with sodas or candy bars, while also providing services like meal preparation for other government institutions.

Unlike inmates convicted of crimes, who often participate in prison work programs and forfeit their rights to many wage protections, these immigrants are civil detainees placed in holding centers, most of them awaiting hearings to determine their legal status. Roughly half of the people who appear before immigration courts are ultimately permitted to stay in the United States — often because they were here legally, because they made a compelling humanitarian argument to a judge or because federal authorities decided not to pursue the case.

“I went from making $15 an hour as a chef to $1 a day in the kitchen in lockup,” said Pedro Guzm├ín, 34, who had worked for restaurants in California, Minnesota and North Carolina before he was picked up and held for about 19 months, mostly at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga. “And I was in the country legally.”
It's almost too easy to make the case that corporations - a form of business disdained by the Founders, who refused to countenance their existence in the Constitution - are the source of virtually all the evil in this country today, and the primary anti-democratic force undermining our republic.
 

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