Creating a national involuntary labor force

Today in the New York Times:

Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada, introduced a bill last month to require all low-security prisoners to work 50 hours a week. Creating a national prison labor force has been a goal since he went to Congress in 1995, but it makes even more sense in this economy, he said.

“The days of just breaking rocks with sledgehammers” are over, said Michael P. Jacobson, director of the Vera Institute of Justice, a research group in New York. “At the grossest financial level, it’s just savings. You can cut the government worker, save the salary and still maintain the service, and you’re providing a skill for when they leave.”

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A national prison labor force… Should I be worried about the legitimization of slave labor? Or about government competing with legitimate businesses for work? Or about the effect of prison labor revenue on parole and sentencing? Troubling on so many levels.

Author: Father Silouan Thompson

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