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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Update: reasons to leave the US - slave labor

I posted a few weeks back about the US having attained the unenviable position as the top country in the world for imprisioning it's own people. Through "get tough on crime" initiatives, mandatory minimum sentances which take away the descrection of judges, and "strikes" laws (one, two, three - you're out - sorry - you're IN for LIFE), one in every 31 American adults is now in jail or prison.

Once the convicted have served their time, the new industry of background checks (driven by the insurance industry) keeps anyone with a criminal record from ever getting a decent job again.

So what does the US population think of this? Well I can only tell you about my state, Washington. In a state election on Tuesday, voters approved a measure that allows the state to contract with private employers to provide prisoners for the production of goods.

See - the prisoners owe the state restitution for their crimes - often amounting to tens of thousands of dollars. Since they wont get a job on the outside to pay what they owe, the state wants them to work it off on the inside.

Now in principal this would be fine (job training, the ability to earn a living), except that the state only pays the prisoners pennies per hour for the work they do - NOT the state's minimum wage, and that the firms that hire the prisoners INSIDE will never hire them outside, once they have completed their sentances.

What this amounts to is state-sponsored slave labor.

I don't recognize my country anymore.

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