Working (In Prision) For the Man (Michael Bloomberg)

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Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonderandhome.com

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13 Responses

  1. Avatar Brandon Berg
    Ignored
    says:

    This revelation that Bloomberg accidentally gave convicted felons an opportunity to volunteer to literally repay their debt to society while earning some spending money totally justifies my ideologically motivated preconception that anyone who isn’t Grandpa Bernie is evil.Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to Brandon Berg
      Ignored
      says:

      Here’s the problem: If people (who are predominantly black) are being thrown in jail for nonviolent offences and then made to work for free (on behalf of white men) then this looks a lot like slavery. Arguably, it actually is slavery.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Murali
        Ignored
        says:

        It’s okay:

        Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. – 13th Amendment.

        And there are surely worse fates than calling other convicted felons and encouraging them to vote for Michael Bloomberg. I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but I’m sure there are some.Report

        • Avatar Murali in reply to George Turner
          Ignored
          says:

          Obviously its legally on the up and up. Its doubtful that this practice would have continued if it did not pass constitutional muster. That said, it may still be morally dubious if the people in such prisons are in largely for non-violent drug offences: things which should not be crimes anyway. This colours the situation: The so-called- crime is just an excuse to re-enslave black people.Report

          • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Murali
            Ignored
            says:

            It would be ok if the jobs were only available to white people?

            In federal prison surveys, 91% of inmates have jobs. Some do not have jobs or work “part-time” because the facility cannot meet the demand. People in these types of jobs programs find it easier to get employed upon release. Bloomberg hires released inmates at his business.

            Your moralizing about who should be in prison does nothing to help people in prison.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Murali
        Ignored
        says:

        As noted in the article, they’re making $1.45/hour. I’m pretty sure that this is voluntary, as well. $1.45/hour doesn’t sound like much, but they’re getting free room and board, so that’s plausibly more than they’d be making in minimum wage jobs on the outside, net of living expenses.

        Furthermore, prison labor just isn’t valuable enough to offset the costs of imprisonment. I can see how there would be legitimate concerns about incentives to increase prison population if prisons were a profit center, but they are and probably always will be cost centers.

        If people commit crimes such that it is deemed necessary to hold them in prison at taxpayer expense, I don’t think it’s unreasonable that they should work to offset a small part of the cost of doing so.

        I don’t think people should be imprisoned for drug crimes, but that’s largely an orthogonal question.

        Also, be careful not to conflate non-violent and victimless crimes. Vandalism and theft are nonviolent crimes, but that doesn’t mean people should be allowed to commit them with impunity. Bernie Madoff was a non-violent criminal, for that matter.Report

        • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Brandon Berg
          Ignored
          says:

          I think they are “paid” minimum wage, but the state charges fees. My information is dated but in my state, prisoners couldn’t work on the market for fear they would undercut legal labor, so the work was all about making the clothes, food, and materials for the prison system. And the arrangement cost more than just buying good and services from a private contractor. I suspect the fees being charged are for the additional security and logistical costs of operating a labor system within a prison, but it would be interesting if a journalist followed-up.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to PD Shaw
            Ignored
            says:

            Its not like the vendor pays all the housing, food, and medical costs for the laborers; they get that free courtesy of the taxpayers. But they do get to pocket the income the laborers generate.

            I remember reading about a prison system back in the 60s, where well-connected people in town would just ring up the warden and ask for a few inmates to come over and mow their lawn, trim trees or do odd jobs for free.

            But only well connected people, and only for the lowest types of labor; Its not like every bakery and gas station and office could fire their employees and use free prison labor instead, because well, that would piss off too many people.

            Which is the heart of slavery; The way it has to be reserved for the elite few and restricted to the lowest rungs of skill, since if all types of labor was universally free the market for it would collapse.Report

  2. Avatar Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    I am shocked that a powerful person used his position to gain a advantage (use cheap labor).Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Damon
      Ignored
      says:

      What do you mean used his position? His position is that he has enough money to pay whatever it costs to hire prison labor. That’s probably more than I have in my wallet right now, but I’m fairly certain you don’t have to be a billionaire.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    “Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?”
    –Casey StengelReport

  4. Avatar George Turner
    Ignored
    says:

    Two questions:

    Is it legal for prison contractors to use illegal alien convicts, who are otherwise barred from the workforce?

    Is it legal to use convicts who are illegal foreign nationals in political campaigns?Report

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