Prison Labor; New Form of Slavery?
In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared a "War on Drugs," allowing the incarceration of peoples who possessed drugs that were considered a threat to the health of the community, claiming that drug abuse was "public enemy number one." The intent was to slow and eventually eliminate drug use, trade, and production, and the law that stated possession of drugs was illegal was meant to discourage people who considered getting into the industry. Neither of those happened; the largest effect was on the incarceration rate. Over the past 45 years, the number of prisoners in the United states has risen at an exponential rate, giving the U.S the gold medal for number of prisoners, with China taking silver and Russia taking bronze. It should say something about the U.S. when the second and third countries are known for people disappearing.
In the words of Huey Freeman; "The prison industrial complex is at the intersection of government and private interests. It uses prisons as the solution to social, economic, and political problems. It includes human rights violations, the death penalty, slave labor, policing, courts, the media, political prisoners, and the elimination of dissent." Private prisons (prisons can be privately owned in the United States) have been using their large prisoner population to outsource their labor to private companies. This form of labor is infinitely more cheap than a normal citizen's labor, as prisoners receive minimal compensation for their backbreaking work.
Modern American Slavery
The thirteenth amendment doesn't completely abolish slavery. The amendment states that slavery is no longer legal, except for as punishment to a crime. Companies try to cover their tracks and say they pay prisoners to work for them, but they pay them minimally; two or three cents an hour. It doesn't help that
Privately Owned Prison Regulations
Although they are prisoners who are the lowest of the low in our society, working like a slave so that prisons can make money off of their labor isn't a correct way to treat them. Privately owned prisons take advantage of the mass amounts of people thrown in jail, and use them to make money by selling their labor to companies that want it. One way to reform this corruption is to create regulations on what work prisoners can do, and how they are compensated; based on their sentence. For example, a prisoner who has murdered someone would be eligible for harsher work than someone who bought liquor illegally.
Worker Compensation though Lowered Sentences
If a prisoner has not committed a dangerous offense, then they should be able to work hard jobs for a maximum of 20-30% reduction on their sentence. This would give prisoners a reason to want to work, and would help the prisons in return because they are granted labor without resistance or trouble. Although they are the scum of the community, they shouldn't be treated like slaves.