In New Orleans I saw men in orange jumpsuits being watched over as they worked by a man wearing a blue coat with the word Sheriff on the back.
Today’s New York Times explains what I saw. Turns out that Louisiana is the one state in the United States that allows private citizens to use prison labour:
- At barbecues, ballgames and funerals, cotton gins, service stations, the First Baptist Church, the pepper-sauce factory and the local private schoolâ€”the men in orange are everywhere.Many people here in East Carroll Parish . . . say they could not get by without their inmates, who make up more than 10 percent of its population and most of its labor force. They are dirt-cheap, sometimes free, always compliant, ever-ready and disposable.
. . .
- The churches, too, are grateful beneficiaries. “They sent me prisoners for a month” for menial chores at the First Baptist Church, said Reynold Minsky, also chairman of the local levee board. “All completely free,” Mr. Minsky added. “It’s a real good deal. Everybody is tickled.”
They’re also used at a local private school where the school’s principal, Morris Richardson, said, “We try to provide their lunch for them.” Makes you wonder what the prisoners are eating at their other jobs.
How is this economy sustainable? The unskilled work is being done by prisoners for free. The poor people who aren’t in gaol can’t find any work. How are they able to support themselves and their families?
Some would have to steal to survive, and then if they’re busted, they’re sent to gaol to join the ever-expanding pool of free and/or dirt cheap labour that so tickles Reynold Minsky. And repeat.
Them that’s got shall have . . .
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