Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Joys of Prison Labor

[Via Economist's View]

Bradford Plumer escreve o recurso aos prisioneiros como mão-de-obra pelo "complexo industrial-prisional":

The prison-industrial complex, now employs some 80,000 prisoners, and the number's rapidly growing. A large number of those workers earn less than minimum wage:
For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold. They don't have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment, health or worker's comp insurance, vacation or comp time. All of their workers are full time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if prisoners refuse to work, they are moved to disciplinary housing and lose canteen privileges. Most importantly, they lose "good time" credit that reduces their sentence.
Bonanza! Now one might reasonably wonder whether this captive, ultra-cheap labor force might be pulling down wages and standards for everyone else. After all, while inmates making goods for domestic consumption must be paid a "prevailing wage," that law doesn't apply to exports. So companies can outsource production to the local penitentiary and pay their "workers" next to nothing:
Prisoners now manufacture everything from blue jeans, to auto parts, to electronics and furniture. Honda has paid inmates $2 an hour for doing the same work an auto worker would get paid $20 to $30 an hour to do. Konica has used prisoners to repair copiers for less than 50 cents an hour. … Clothing made in California and Oregon prisons competes so successfully with apparel made in Latin America and Asia that it is exported to other countries.

There are currently two million prisoners in the United States, and "some experts believe that the number of people locked up in the U.S. could double in the next 10 years"—many for minor, non-violent drug crimes and the like. The War on Drugs: truly the gift that keeps giving. But now that businesses are finding it so lucrative, what are the odds of that changing anytime soon? I wonder if corporations have ever lobbied for "tough on crime" policies because they need the cheap labor. Seems a bit paranoid, but hardly impossible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

se quiserem pôr os prisioneiros a trabalhar que os ponham a arranjar as estradas, em regime de serviço social; ou então que lhe dêem o salário minimo (eles bem vão precisar do dinheiro quando sairem).

eles podem estar encarcerados, mas se trabalham, desde logo tem os mesmos direitos em termos laborais.
de resto, é apenas um aproveitamento de trabalho escravo.

por fim, sabe sempre bem às empresas terem trabalhadores que não piam.