Work for Me:
Companies in Arizona are buying inmates to work for them. The state raked in millions but the inmates were negleted and treated poorly. In the past, inmates were taught a trade in prison. The inmates were taught, woodworking, metalworking, mechanical skills, and upholstry. Now they build homes and other products. The old trades were and still are benefical to U.S. economy. Today, ACI and private companies are making millions with little overhead because labor is very cheap due to the fact that they are buying, selling and exploiding inmates.
Arizona Correctional Industries (ACI) a former marketing director decided to teaching inmates wasn’t the best way to profit from the inmates but selling to private companies for labor would be. Now 13 years later, the number of inmates has doubled. ACI generates revenues without the costs, saves a few high-tech sales and manufactures jobs. ACI puts inmates in huge, backbreaking and dangerous jobs without concern for the inmate’s well-being. All while making millions for these private companies. Rehabilitation and re-entry program are not worked on while these inmates are working for these private companies. And if an inmate refuses to go to work or quits they are punished.
On these jobs inmates get seriously injured. Some of had their body parts cut by machinary, crush under parts of the machine while trying to fix a problem with the heavy equipment and getting hurt with hand tools. This means that the inmate gets health care from the prison medical team. One inmate almost lost his leg from getting a very large cut, another one had a crushed arm and there are more incidents. It is very expensive to get a lawsuit against the prison, ACI and the private companies that the inmate is employed with.
In other prisons they are concerned about their contacts with outside agencies that they are not protecting their inmates when it comes to COVID. When a unit gets COVID the prison still the inmates to work in the kitchen or laundry as long as the inmate has had their vaccination and booster. The inmate must wear a mask and be fever free but they do not quarantine with the unit. The prison is only concerned with getting their job completed and upholding their contact with the agency.
Payments and health care:
Under the 13th Amendment which prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude states can still force inmates to work. There are 4 states that do not pay inmates for the work that they provide.The inmates do not get paid minimal wage, they are not allowed to get workman’s compensation when hurt on the job, and state and federal taxes are not withheld. Arizona does pay up to $12.00 for some jobs. Apparently, lawsuits are not enough to stop ACI or the private companies from exploiding the inmates, change how they conduct business when dealing with the inmates, and paying the inmates more money and their workman’s compensation. Milions of dollars made so where did the money go?
Lesser of two evils:
Inmates know that they are being exploided. However, they say it is better to get out of the prison for a few hours everyday then to sit in a cell everyday with nothing to do. Some of them are able to send money home and some are able to save money for their release. They know that gettng hurt is a risk and they that they will not get workman’s compensation. Punishment for not going or quiting the job is not worth the time or trouble either. So, when the inmate weighs out all their options they choose to go to work.
What needs to change:
I think that the companies and ACI need to be held accountable for the inmates. Just because they are incarcerated does not make them inhuman, or less of a person. They can get hurt just as easily as anyone one of us. They should get paid for the work that they do, which would get more to work. Working would give them a purpose and raise their self-esteem. The company hired them so technically they are employees so they should be treated the same as everyone else not excluded just because they are inmates.
If you have any thoughts please let me know.
Or if you have any experiences that you went through I would love to hear about it.
Ref: Arizona Republic