Saturday, March 03, 2007

Labor Camps

Inmates Will Replace Wary Migrants in Colorado Fields

DENVER, March 3 — As migrant laborers flee Colorado because of tough new immigration restrictions, worried farmers are looking to prisoners to fill their places in the fields.

Under the program, which has drawn criticism from groups concerned about immigrants’ rights and from others seeking changes in the criminal justice system, farmers will pay a fee to the state, and the inmates, who volunteer for the work, will be paid about 60 cents a day, corrections officials said.

Concerned about the possible shortage of field labor, Dorothy B. Butcher, a state representative from Pueblo and a supporter of the program, said, “The workers on these farms do the weeding, the harvesting, the storing, everything that comes with growing crops for the market.”

Although chain gangs and prison farms have long been staples of American correctional culture, the concept of inmates working on private farms is unusual. But there are signs that other states are following suit. The Iowa Department of Corrections is considering a similar program because of a migrant labor shortage in that state.

Several Iowa farmers called recently to request inmates in lieu of migrant workers, said Roger Baysden, the director of the state’s prison industries program. One farmer asked for as many as 200 inmates, Mr. Baysden said.

“They won’t be paid big bucks, but we’re hoping this will help our inmates pick up significant and valuable job skills,” Mr. Zavaras said.

“This is not a cure-all,” Mr. Pisciotta said. “What our farm laborers do is a skill. They’re born with it, and they’re good at it. It’s not an easy job.”

----- Yassah boss. Farm labor a significant valuable job skill worth 60 cents a day, and farm laborers be "born with it". Please slap the shit out of these men, if for nothing more than whining that prison slaves are not as skilled as migrant slaves.


Anonymous said...

Just curious, what does a prisoner do in a prison all day? Does this beat being inside in a prison with other inmates?
Ooops, I just had a thought - will they have to work outside in the cold under excruciating temperature conditions? Yuk.

Kate-A said...

The program is better known as a gulag – now gussied up to look like good ol' American judicial rehab. In a few years, when free farm labor is the norm – we can round up (arrest) as many "workers" as the big government subsidized farmers need, and hey the State can provide insurance for any work injuries, offenses, etc.

In an effort to be sarcastically cute you miss a bigger picture. These prisoners are minimal security inmates, i.e. guilty of lesser nonviolent crimes. At 60 cents a day I'm hard pressed to see the rehabilitation in this set-up.

If the geniuses of such programs wanted to pay $6-7/hr, whatever minimum wage is, and earmark most of the earnings for victim restitution and/or the inmate's obligations, i.e. child support, etc. it might be reasonable. But then farmers would probably say "yuk" to such expensive labor.

Anonymous said...

Americans will do ANYTHING so they don't have to pay minimum wage.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate,

No attempt to be sarcastically cute here.

Anonymous said...

interesting article, thanx! This may explain why the Bankrupcy court has been put under Homeland Security.

I remember driving through Mississippi and watching the prison labor in the fields - black faces in white jump suits. Was told locally that when the crops were ready, arrests went up significantly.

The more things change . . .

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate,

This is apart from the article at hand, but I know you could answer this so that a 3 year old could understand.

I am trying to understand "UN Peacekeeping Forces". Does "UN Peacekeeping Forces" mean protecting American and European business interests abroad from upset native citizens?

Kate-A said...


"UN Peacekeeping Forces" mean protecting American and European business interests abroad from upset native citizens"

You got it. I couldn't have said it better.

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