Friday, February 25, 2011

States resorting to slave labor

In these days of economic hard times, calls for shared sacrifice (I'll share the benefits with my buddies, you make the sacrifice) are no longer cutting the mustard. When state governors have ruled tax increases on the under taxed elements of society as off limits, many states are falling back on a time tested solution.
Prison labor — making license plates, picking up litter — is nothing new, and nearly all states have such programs. But these days, officials are expanding the practice to combat cuts in federal financing and dwindling tax revenue, using prisoners to paint vehicles, clean courthouses, sweep campsites and perform many other services done before the recession by private contractors or government employees.

In New Jersey, inmates on roadkill patrol clean deer carcasses from highways. Georgia inmates tend municipal graveyards. In Ohio, they paint their own cells. In California, prison officials hope to expand existing programs, including one in which wet-suit-clad inmates repair leaky public water tanks. There are no figures on how many prisoners have been enrolled in new or expanded programs nationwide, but experts in criminal justice have taken note of the increase.

“There’s special urgency in prisons these days,” said Martin F. Horn, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction. “As state budgets get constricted, the public is looking for ways to offset the cost of imprisonment.”
Why hire the unemployed when you got a way below market rate labor pool all locked up. And the judges will keep the pool filled, just tell them what you want,


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