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Forum Post: Prison labor, Slavery, and Capitalism

Posted 10 years ago on Sept. 7, 2013, 12:48 p.m. EST by owshelpermonkey (-1)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Prison Labor, Slavery & Capitalism In Historical Perspective

by Stephen Hartnett

Stephen Hartnett is a visiting lecturer in the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California-Berkeley. He is also a volunteer instructor in California's San Quentin Prison.

Shaka is an intellectually hungry young man who, due to a first-time arrest on a nonviolent drug charge, has spent the past twelve years struggling to maintain his sanity in a medium-security prison in Indiana. One of Shaka's chief dilemmas -- among the daily prospects of rape, gang violence, harassment by guards, and the deafening anomie of boredom -- is that the prison he is in has instituted a policy offering prisoners a Faustian choice: fester in your cell with few opportunities for life-improving activities, or, as a means of escaping the drudgery of confinement, work in a prison-administered factory. Despite the welcome opportunities for physical activity and conversation with fellow prisoners offered by the prison's work program, Shaka is adamant that he will not labor for the prison. He explains his reasoning as follows:

During slavery, work was understood to be a punishment, and became despised as any punishment is despised. Work became hated as does any activity which accomplishes no reward for the doer. Work became identified with slavery, and slavery with punishing work, thus work came to be a most hated activity ... This is why I adamantly refuse to work within the prison system: I unequivocally refuse to be a slave.

Shaka's comparison of contemporary prison labor and antebellum slavery may seem hyperbolic or even melodramatic, but in fact Shaka is historically accurate and politically astute in linking prison, labor, and slavery. This is perhaps the most productive means of thinking about the role of what I call "the correctional-industrial complex."

Read more: http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/hisprislacap.html



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[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 2 years ago

Prison Labour in the USA, Slavery and - the 13th Amendment!

e tenebris, lux?

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 1 year ago

"US Prison Workers Produce $11B worth of goods and services for ‘little to no pay at all’!" - by Sarakshi Rai:

fiat justitia - ruat caelum!

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (23740) 1 year ago

Movement to end unpaid prison labor.


“The reality is that it is 2022 and in the United States, slavery is still legal,” said Bianca Tylek, founder and executive director of the non-profit Worth Rises."

"The 13th amendment of the US constitution, ratified in 1865, abolished slavery and involuntary servitude. But it contained an exception for “a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted”.

"This exception clause has been used to exploit prisoners in the US as workers, paying them nothing to a few dollars a day to perform jobs ranging from prison services to manufacturing or working for private employers where the majority of their pay is deducted for room and board and other expenses by the jurisdictions where they are incarcerated."

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 11 months ago

"'Society Has Shut Down On Us:' Prison Strikers Across Alabama Demand Change Despite The Severe Retaliation"! by Haley Czarnek:

"There's an unbroken line extending from the institution of slavery as it existed in the antebellum era to the modern prison industrial complex.

“Alabama wishes for its slaves to remain passive & obedient, to continue bringing millions of dollars of profit from our backs and blood,” Swift said in an October 1 press release.

"If slavery is characterized, as sociologist Orlando Patterson contends - primarily by 'Social Death', the thread is now very clear ... a person who becomes an inmate, gets a number for a name, loses access to communication channels uncontrolled by the institution - is typically moved far from their family, and exists according to the dictates of guards, at least some of whom have been charged with or convicted of assaulting those in their care. Death, in the literal sense - is a constant feature of Alabama’s prisons, and the full extent of the violence is hard to measure given ADOC’s tendency to provide no updates.

"Politicians and administrators - continue to find new ways to make a system widely condemned for its brutality even more brutal. The parole board, for instance, has drastically reduced grants of conditional release; 46% of applications were denied in 2017 but then that number skyrocketed to - 84% in 2021!!

"The average for the decade prior to 2021, was 37% with the drastic increase in part reflecting the fact that the board now often declines to follow their own guidelines, choosing instead to keep more people locked up even as the Dept. of Justice has found - that the prisons are unconstitutionally overcrowded.

"While the US' criminal justice system, disproportionately targets communities of color at every point in the process - the racial disparities in parole denials are still increasing; a Montgomery Advertiser article reports “grants for Black applicants dropping at a much faster rate in 2020 & 2021, than for whites.” As officials strip away all remaining hope many have of ever seeing the outside world again, what remains for inmates to focus on is the trauma the carceral system inflicts.

"Thousands of people have built solidarity in these, most unlikely conditions. The US' Labor Movement depends on all of us recognizing that there is more that connects us than divides us, and that there are many more of us ready to fight for our rights than there are bosses and oppressors."

ALSO NOTE THAT - "Haley Czarnek is the national director of Law Students for Climate Accountability and serves as a fellow for United Campus Workers Alabama & the co-chair of the Labor Committee of the Birmingham Democratic Socialists of America."

fiat lux et fiat justitia!

[-] 0 points by shoozTroll (17632) 10 years ago

All imprisonment is a form of torture, as is slavery.

This is a bit old and it's even worse today.

but it should be surprising and reprehensible, just what torture will make a prisoner do.