Government turns to prisoners for cheap labor

The road to riches is paved with cheap labor. (See: China) And you don’t get much cheaper than prisoners.

A skilled onion picker can earn $10 an hour.

A skilled onion picker can earn $10 an hour.

Recently, the state of Georgia announced a plan to use prisoners to harvest crops. Why? A new law pretty much ran off Hispanic field hands.

As federal employees celebrate Columbus, perhaps history’s most famous and geographically confused immigrant, the lack of onion pickers in Vidalia brings crocodile tears to the eyes.

The prisoner farm plan comes after a failed scheme to seduce probationers into doing the dirty work.

Now, a Georgia county is planning to use inmates to man fire stations.

A properly trained firefighter costs upwards of $30,000 a year. An inmate will work a lot cheaper – Camden County hopes to save $500,000 a year.

Of course, when my flaming roof is about to collapse, I’d prefer a guy to show up with an ax that knows how to use it for its law-abiding purpose.

Georgia isn’t the only place giving jobs to the undeserving: Indiana’s War Memorial saves $400,000 a year since using inmates ($1.50 per hour) instead of a landscaping company.

With a seemingly limitless number of criminals to employ, the jobless rate may not go down anytime soon.

125 comments Add your comment

art

October 10th, 2011
1:06 pm

Dawg dad, the next time the tea klux klan has a rally, round them up too.

camille

October 10th, 2011
1:07 pm

reverse cheap slave labor… why would be pay a prisoner less than a “regular” fire fighter? At some point, we are going to do away with the regular fir fighter or pay them less… Everything that is shiny isn’t gold.

Teresa

October 10th, 2011
1:09 pm

They don’t educate in prison anymore number one, number two, the “court appointed lawyers working pro bono can give a fuggin care if the person is guilty or not, they do not give a honest try because there is no paycheck attached and most likely desensitized. Thus the overcrowding in prisons and some are guilty but others cannot afford the high priced lawyers, like an OJ, like Casey etc., clearly guilty in some form. Some of you guys cry about my tax dollar this my tax dollars that, well what do you propose? I will say that I do not feel comfortable with an inmate in the firehouse; BUT I have no problem with them doing the jobs that are now absent by undocumented workers due to the new law. I’m not with the death penalty I am for real rehabilitation. Let them farm, it’s not reverting to slavery, they are paying back their debt to society. A cot, three squares and recreation has coddled some imprisoned and angered some. But what does it do to have them receive three nasty meals (albeit a meal) a bed, and small recreation when there is no longer education? Some of you that comment say my money goes to educating a criminal in some ways you are right, they learn to become better at what they do, the human mind is resilient, there is no more degrees in prison, there are trades to a certain degree pun intended and limited books. I say let them take the jobs that are now vacant because of the new immigration law, at least that may develop a skill. Our infrastructure is bombed out and depleted. And just maybe when they return home they can go back to that same place and get a job making a little more or start their own business because we already know the world will black list you when you’re a felon the world does not forgive, but I pray that individual people will take a chance on people really wanting a better life. Stop the madness stop the hate and let’s put our money where it belongs and that is with us, the people! I’m not asking give hard criminals’ a Mercedes and a mansion but discern when and when not to take a chance god willing, but don’t damn everyone to hell. What if you made a mistake in life and the world had to judge you? You would be floating dead in a river or lynched 2011 style or back to the same dark life because you can’t seem to get a leg up because of your past. Have some compassion, common sense, and respect for your neighbor and not be a fool.
Ps spell trolls suck it you get what I am saying

Teresa

October 10th, 2011
1:12 pm

Also, the labor they perform should be minimum wage at least

Richard Joseph

October 10th, 2011
1:14 pm

It’s rather obvious that many people commenting on this haven’t actually bothered to read the linked articles and are just having knee-jerk reactions based on an opinion piece.

GT GRAD

October 10th, 2011
1:17 pm

Awesome plan/idea……..I wish I had thought of it myself; wait a minute, I did……..I have been telling anyone who would listen for 5-6 years that we should do this.

I also think we should have the inmates (inside the walls of the prisons) grow crops, raise chickens/eggs, tend to cattle (meat & milk), etc. to reduce the cost of the food they eat. The “inside the walls” activities should also include 24/7 production facilities (furniture, clothing, footwear, light fixtures, brooms, mops, etc.)! The inmates should have jobs and be productive as long as they are in prison.

Outside of the walls……….we should never pay full price for another road (repair, expansion or new construction). Buy the equipment and hire the current operators as State employees to train the inmates to build roads!

atlpaddy

October 10th, 2011
1:19 pm

Where is all of the screaming on the right about “the free market!” blah, blah, blah?

Also, those in the General Assembly should be patting themselves on the back for taking the lead in combatting illegal immigration…..and for killing off Georgia’s agriculture economy. Bravo.

Rosa

October 10th, 2011
1:26 pm

I think this is a great idea. Prisoners will feel better if they go out of prison and work. They need to get pay a little bit more and they can save that money for when they get out of prison. I am sure that a lot of them are willing to go to work to be able to make some money. It’s good for the farmers and it’s good for the prisoners.

D. Clay

October 10th, 2011
1:28 pm

It’s a shame when those trusted TO UPHOLD THE LAW, TURNS AND BREAKS THE LAW. O.C.G.A.-42-5-60 makes it absolutely clear that INMATES SHALL NOT BE USED IN ANY BUSINESS CONDUCTED FOR PROFIT. There is a major distinction between going to prison and being worked in contrast to being utilized in the private sector to gain a profit from. The Federal and State Constitution guarantee’s citizens from being utilized as involuntary servants by ANOTHER PERSON….The Department of Corrections is an AGENT OF THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNMENT AND VESTED WITH THE AUTHORITY TO USE INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE RESULTING FROM CRIMINAL CONVICTION….THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT OF GOVERNMENT IS NOT PERMITTED TO DELEGATE THAT AUTHORITY TO ANOTHER PERSON..i.e., FOR-PROFIT BUSINESSES. In the eyes of the Law, FOR PROFIT BUSINESSES IS THE SAME AS A PERSON, AND IS THEREFORE PROHIBITED UNDER LAW TO COMPEL ANOTHER PERSON TO INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE…..SLAVERY IS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY!!!! THERE IS A GEORGIA SUPREME COURT CASE THAT CLEARLY ESTABLISHES THIS TRUTH: PENITENTIARY CO.#2 v. ROUNDTREE. THAT SOUTH WILL NEVER RISE AGAIN.

PD

October 10th, 2011
1:30 pm

Slavery with a new name

D. Clay

October 10th, 2011
1:32 pm

LET ME BE CLEAR; THERE IS NO VIOLATION OF LAW WHEN INMATES ARE MADE TO WORK ON STATE-OWNED PROJECTS AND JOBS….THAT IS PERFECTLY LEGAL…..BUT WHEN INMATES ARE UTILIZED TO BE A PART OF THE FREE ENTERPRISE SYSTEM…THAT THEN BECOMES SLAVERY……WE MUST FOLLOW THE LAW…..IF NOT, THEN WE ARE NO BETTER THAN CRIMINALS.

Tim in KY

October 10th, 2011
1:32 pm

This ain’t nothin’ new! I know in Muscogee County (Columbus), prisoners were always used for manual labor jobs such as cutting overgrown grass fields and other areas. They also took care of trash collection in the city and god knows whatever else! But for the more skilled positions, such as firefighter, of course you have to have trained personnel, not to mention it is against the law to place even criminals in harms way! Not to mention, you run the risk of escape and dereliction of duty in the rescue or extinguishing of fires by prisoners. I know if it were me, I’m not risking my life to save someone else, and I’m only getting paid, $ .75/hr. Forget it!!!

LAL

October 10th, 2011
1:33 pm

I am in full support of this idea – there’s no reason why prisoners should not being contributing to society since society is taking care of them! Food, shelter, clothing, medical care all for committing a crime.

LABOY

October 10th, 2011
1:35 pm

i say let’em work haha they in jail dey aint got nuthin else to do

Pat

October 10th, 2011
1:35 pm

For the people that are calling this salary, did you even ready the article? It says that the work would be voluntary for the prisoners so they can learn new skills, earn money and eventually land steady jobs that would help them once they get out of prison. I guess I could say every job I had is slavery.

CazLand

October 10th, 2011
1:36 pm

What took the state so long. This should have been enacted years ago,not just when the state gov is in the RED

Pat

October 10th, 2011
1:37 pm

For all you human rights activist, it is helping them do something with their time instead of sitting and not doing anything in the prison walls and once again, it is voluntary.

CazLand

October 10th, 2011
1:38 pm

LAL-kudos! If me and every other law abiding tax paying citizen is footin the bill for they’re room & board plus health benifits this should be a no brainer.

Pat

October 10th, 2011
1:39 pm

D. Clay, how about you read the article before jumping to conclusions and have to use all caps.

db

October 10th, 2011
1:44 pm

I was a correctional officer and corporal in the prison system before i became a probation officer and i will say that inmate firefighters are some of the best that come in that business. They have to endure the same training as regular firefighters and they are darn good at what they do. You have to realize that just because they are in prison does not make them terrible people. How many of you have broken the law or done something wrong but just didnt get caught. Furthermore, it could be you accused of doing something you honestly did not do and be punished for it like some people in prison are going through. The point is, everyone in the system are not bad people, believe me, I work with them everyday. Lastly, again, these guys take what they do seriously because when they get released, their certification still stands and no one can strip that from them. I guarantee if you go around to your local fire departments, YOU WILL DEFINITELY find out that some of them have at least one ex con on their staff. I havent encountered many inmates who would give that up. They are human beings also.

CazLand

October 10th, 2011
1:45 pm

Pat-IMO it should’nt be voluntary.Voluntary would be if the taxpayers wanted to foot the bill for convicted criminals expenses.my vote would be no. Lets go back to letting the jails payin for themselves.

Teresa

October 10th, 2011
1:46 pm

I retract that they should make minimum wage

Freedom Lover

October 10th, 2011
1:48 pm

Pat. Oh yes it will be voluntary wink wink . Your ass wants to get out of jail you will volunteer. Minor offenses will serve more and more time as we need to support the crops. Cops will be quicker to make an arrest if are short handed. I ok with prisoners doing hard labor but do not mix it up with the free market. Which sheriff is going to get donations from the farmers the one that feeds them cheap labor or the one that reduces crime

CazLand

October 10th, 2011
1:49 pm

db-IMO this isn’t bout the small percentage of inmates that may have been incarcerated wrongly. This is about using inmate labor for the good of the taxpayer footin the bill to house them.

Pat

October 10th, 2011
1:50 pm

CazLand, I agree with you. I was citing the article so people would stop yelling out that this is slavery and how they are force to do it under this new plan, which they are not.

Dave

October 10th, 2011
1:51 pm

So, wouldn’t this hurt the law abiding citizens that want to be firefighters? If ever I have an emergency, do I want convicted criminals in my home to take care of it? Why are we even talking about taking away jobs from those that deserve a shot? Maybe those of us looking for work should commit a crime first.

D. Clay

October 10th, 2011
1:52 pm

@ PAT…I USE CAPS RESPECTFULLY TO MAKE MY POINT VERY CLEAR…..I DON’T CARE ABOUT IT BEING VOLUNTARY AND DON’T CARE HOW IT IS PHRASED TO MAKE IT SOUND ACCEPTABLE….THE LAW IS CLEAR; IT IS ILLEGAL TO UTILIZE INMATES IN THE STATE OF GEORGIA IN ANY BUSINESS CONDUCTED FOR PROFIT…THEY CAN’T VOLUNTEER FOR THAT WHICH IS ILLEGAL……THE EXECUTIVE DEPT.OF GOVT CANNOT DELEGATE THAT POWER TO A PRIVATE PERSON NO MORE THAN THAN THE JUDICIAL DEPT CAN DELEGATE IT’S AUTHORITY TO A FOR PROFIT BUSINESS TO CONDUCT COURT.

yesop

October 10th, 2011
1:52 pm

Columbus/Muscogee Co, GA has been using prisinors from the local jail for garbage pickup & I am sure other county needs for the last 50 years that I know of — pray tell whats wrong with that — while in presion they are wards of the taxpayers — so reather than lounge awaiting there day in court – work for the one keeping you & remember getting there was your choice !!!

Great Idea !!!

homer

October 10th, 2011
1:52 pm

If you believe that illegal immigrants are criminals, then what’s the difference if a prisoner or an illegal immigrant performs the work? If prisoners are good enough to send into the fields then they are good enough to come to your house and fight a fire. Why is it any worse for a firefighter to deal with the criminal element than a farmer?

CazLand

October 10th, 2011
1:56 pm

Dave-under different circumstances I would agree. But as long as our state gov is in the red I vote to have inmate labor whereever & whenever we can till we get our house in order. I would prefer them used in other area’s to be honest but anywhere we can save I’m for. By the way,sorry for your circumstance.

Leroy

October 10th, 2011
1:56 pm

Well it is about time that someone thought of this idea. This practice should have been in effect years and years ago. Instead of laying around watching TV and enjoying the inside elements. These prisoners should be keeping the right of way maintained as well as maintaining parks etc. Firefighting is a bad idea as they have the opportunity to case peoples home and businesses. I say put their lazy butts to work!! If they are required to work hard maybe they will have second thoughts for the future.

Pat

October 10th, 2011
1:57 pm

Okay, if you want to use caps, that is fine.
How is giving an inmate a choice to work and make money, learn something, etc, forcing them to work? Why is giving someone a choice illegal?

CazLand

October 10th, 2011
1:58 pm

Echoes

October 10th, 2011
1:58 pm

Sounds like a new form of slavery. Serving time is one thing, working in fields on behalf of wealthy land owners & private industry for nothing may not be the exact same thing but is a close relative.

Ms.Sassie

October 10th, 2011
1:59 pm

It is amazing to me that this article refers ton inmates as undeserving. Individuals in lockup are no undeserving. They are in jail to pay the price for a crime they commited. They were given their sentence by their peers or a judge. People make mistakes and they pay a price. The price is based on how severe their mistake/crime is….This does not mean they are undeserving. It is bad enough that the state of Georgia treats their inmates so poorly….they don’t feed them but one meal on the weekends….breakfast. They also don’t feed them but one meal on holidays….This practice is not right. The inmates deserve to eat just like anyone esle. It sad to me that people can be so inhumane and call it justice. Cruel and unusal punishment is a violation of a the constitution. People calling others undeserving should check themselves before judging others.

KGray

October 10th, 2011
1:59 pm

This is nothing but modern day SALVERY. People are so against illegals doing the jobs that they did for low wages and now they want prisoners to do this and I doubt this will not sit well with ACLU and the feds. There will be law suits afer law suit on this plan and then we will see how the crops will be picked. If the illegals didn’t have a problem with thier job, then why not get sponship for the workers. However, it’s the racist citizens of the state of Georgia that want allow these people who are willing to do this type of work, do the work. Why not allow them to work toward getting their citizenship. How about some of these RICH farmers sponsoring the works and allowing them an opportunity to become CITIZENS!

db

October 10th, 2011
2:03 pm

@ cazland, i understand what you are saying

bill

October 10th, 2011
2:04 pm

For those who are so quick to jump to negative conclusions, the state of Georgia has used inmates as firefighters for over 20 years, and the results have been excellent. Take time to understand the situation before throwing your biases at proposed remedies. Our state is one of the few remaining states that does not pay inmates, so those inmates who, in the past, have volunteered to become trained firefighters have done so purely as a volunteer. If you live in an area that does not have the funding required to support a firestation with paid firefighters, and your home is on fire, I feel sure that you would certainly welcome a group of trained inmates without worrying whether your jewels will be safe.

Pat

October 10th, 2011
2:05 pm

KGray, what is the difference between illegals doing this work and a minor offense criminal. They both have broken the laws and they both volunteer to do this work.

Jeremy

October 10th, 2011
2:08 pm

This story doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of prisoner slave labor in Georgia. In most states, prisoners who do any kind of work are compensated up to several dollars a day (yes, that’s right, dollar as DAY). In Georgia, that’s not the case — prisoners are not compensated for their work at all. Not only that, but the vast majority of prisoners who are able to work in Georgia are coerced into doing so. If they refuse, they lose the very few privileges they are allowed, such as going to the store for extra food and hygiene products, visitation, phone privileges, and are subject to being isolated in ‘the hole.’ Prisoners in Georgia do not receive any special privileges or parole consideration for their work, no matter how well they do. Jobs that prisoners perform including cooking meals, janitorial work, working at fire stations in rural areas, picking up trash on road crews, clearing trees to make way for roads and sewage lines, and doing work for which many county workers make $10+/hr to do. It’s time to end slave labor for prisoners in Georgia. If prisoners are forced to work, they should at least be compensated and know that their work, which saves the state, counties, and cities of Georgia millions of dollar each year, is worth something.

ooneal

October 10th, 2011
2:09 pm

Actually, we are behind the curve on this issue; In other parts of the country, prisoners are used for government services including FIGHT FIRES!!!!!!!!!! For instance, out west, prisoners are used with great success for volunteer firefighting, particularly FOREST FIRES, people; Many good reports have been made concerning prisoners that do these services

WOW

October 10th, 2011
2:09 pm

Inmates have been firefighters for years in Georgia. They are trained just like other firefighters and respond to fires in the community. A officer goes with them for security reasons and the Inmate firefighters work along side of the paid county firefighters. It’s worked for many many years in several rural communites in Georgia.

db

October 10th, 2011
2:10 pm

@ bill you are absolutely correct..that’s my point also..@ms. sassie, they get two meals on the weekends and holidays…..breakfast and dinner

KGray

October 10th, 2011
2:11 pm

Pat, why shouldn’t the FARMER’S sponosor the illegals and allow them to become citizens? Why not have this done and make them legal through sponsorship. Also, in order for the prisoner’s to become firefighter they will need a lot of costly training for becoming a firefighter. I doubt if the prisoners will be used a voulunteer workers, then again I guess some people thought SLAVERY was comprised of volunteer willing workers!

john

October 10th, 2011
2:15 pm

sounds like this is going to incentivize corrupt cops and judges to send more people to jail to feed their slave labor contracts.

Pat

October 10th, 2011
2:21 pm

KGray, the farmers could have sponsored them if they wanted to, the illegals also have a chance to seek a work visa also. It was a personal choice for both parties involved. I am just saying that the article says that the inmates will not be forced to do the work and also be paid for the work, so it is not slavery. Based on what D.Clay said, I highly doubt the Ga Government will force and not compensate these people because it breaks the law.

def

October 10th, 2011
2:27 pm

Why not put the welfare rats on this program so they can “earn” their monthly check?

Pat

October 10th, 2011
2:30 pm

def, that is another good plan but it looks like, by some of these comments, asking people to work in these types of jobs is slavery.

Civic duty or slavery ?

October 10th, 2011
2:30 pm

Wow ! When law abiding citizens give of their valuable time, without pay, to a church, school, non profit organization or civic organization it is called a civic duty. However, when a is asked to do the same it is called slavery !

Walleye

October 10th, 2011
2:33 pm

Wow. Russians used their prisoners to mine gold and harvest timber in Siberia without paying them.
Way to Georgia!