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

dood

October 10th, 2011
12:05 pm

picking peaches is one thing, saving a family in a burning building? Forget it. Terrible idea. The worst!
The one bright side could be I wouldn’t need to grab my valuables in a burning building, certainly they’d find my watches, the wife’s jewelry, and nice electronics.

GTHunter

October 10th, 2011
12:07 pm

I have NO issue with using prisoners to pick crops. NONE. Fighting fires is a different story….

Ken Kahn

October 10th, 2011
12:09 pm

They should have ben put to work in the fields long ago. No downside. They have no “rights” (beyond human rights) when in jail.

MA

October 10th, 2011
12:09 pm

It is about time! Most of the criminals out there apparently do not know how to W-O-R-K. Instead of sitting around in prison taking drugs (yes, it does happen!), watching TV, lifting weights, planning what their next crime spree will be when they get out of jail, etc. they need to be sweating like the rest of productive society. If they can’t contribute to society while out of jail, at least they can be productive while in prison.

Great Idea

October 10th, 2011
12:09 pm

I think using inmates to perform agricultural jobs and landscaping duties on government property is a great idea!! I think using inmate labor for firefighting is a horrible idea! Firefighters should not be tasked with having to supervise inmates. Their concentration should be solely on fighting the fire~!!

yhfaith

October 10th, 2011
12:11 pm

Be careful people with the comments– these people in prison are someone’s children and one day it could be one of yours. Be careful what you wish on these people.

Junior Samples

October 10th, 2011
12:14 pm

Inmates as firefighters. Brilliant!

“The inmates would have no guard, but would be monitored by a surveillance system and by the traditional firefighters, who would undergo training to guard the inmates”

Even better.

shameonhumanity

October 10th, 2011
12:15 pm

This is obviously a return to slavery and will make the current justice system even more ripe for corruption. What incentive with counties have to educate kids, keep families strong and healthy, create opportunities for youth to lift themselves out of poverty, to rehabilitate drug and alcohol addicts and to help former prisoners reintegrate into society if it is much more profitable to create more prisoners. With that kind of incentive, we create wounded, uneducated children to feed into a prison industrial complex. Perfect for a south that never finished mourning the loss of a confederacy. Its a slippery slop and this is the new world order at play.

Freedom Lover

October 10th, 2011
12:15 pm

Worse idea ever. Let me see. We need more cotton picked. Hey bubba lets go down to the hood and bust me some young men so my cousin Jr. can get some cheap labor to pick his cotton..Is it going to be as easy to fight charges when we need people to pick tomatoes the government would now have an intrest in busting people..

Makes Cents

October 10th, 2011
12:16 pm

And why shouldn’t this state use this labor? Our tax dollars go towards expensive court fees and court appointed lawyers. Then our tax dollars go to housing, feeding, bathing, educating, and medically treating these convicted felons for years if not decades. They should be contributing to society in a meaningful way – not just eat, sleep, and poop. I look at this as a win-win because the state gets badly needed labor and the felons get some trade skills that they may be able to use if/when they are released. Prisons are supposed to be rehabilitation centers anyway. As far as the immigrants who were here illegally and have left for fear of deportation? Good! There is a legal way to become a citizen. Just because it takes time and work doesn’t mean one can skip it and still enjoy the benefits of it. Plus, skimping on paying taxes on earned income is not the way to move this state forward. Lastly, I’ll say that even for those receiving unemployment checks, there should be a mandatory 10 hour labor service (community service or whatever) where their skills are being utilized weekly in order to receive their checks. If you think that’s brutal, do the math. $300 for 10 hours of work equates to $30/hr. Who wouldn’t want to get paid $30/hr while looking for a job and gaining new skills? Oh yeah, those who can work 0 hrs and still get the $300. #FAIL

shameonhumanity

October 10th, 2011
12:17 pm

not to mention the fact that people who avoid crime and seek honest pay as, let’s say a fire fighter, will lose out to people who work for free. Maybe they’ll get desperate enough to commit a crime or simply not be able to pay a speeding ticket before they too end up in line to be “slave labour.”

blakbot

October 10th, 2011
12:18 pm

Sounds and SMELLS like SLAVERY- SHAME on the government and corporations for denying these people work, then imprisoning them for economic reasons (drugs/ theft) THEN forcing them to work for FREE (SLAVERY)

Tech '10

October 10th, 2011
12:19 pm

I wish that they would gain a skill set that would make them less likely to go back to prison. Sitting around while I pay for them is not a pleasant thought. Inmates should have to work to help repay the society which they preyed upon. A little honest hard work is never a bad idea. Not too keen on the fire fighting thing though… Yes they are someone’s children, but they are also the bane of someone elses existence.

Peg

October 10th, 2011
12:19 pm

So Georgia plans yet another return to the chain gang. Georgia was the last state to discontinue this practice in 1955. They made an attempt to start it up again in 1995, but abandoned it after being sued by human rights organizations. Here we go again. Once again, Georgia, you make me so proud…

larry coleman

October 10th, 2011
12:19 pm

Slavery all over again!!! I guess you will be going to prison for any thing now.

dood

October 10th, 2011
12:20 pm

can you guys really believe your comments about going and busting people to feed prisons with labor? Wow, you are really out of touch. First off, they’re already bursting at the seams with drug offenders and thieves…second, maybe they will remember picking peaches in the hot Georgia sun instead of kicking it in the weight room when they get out. Go for it, but keep them out of the fire stations.

Makes Cents

October 10th, 2011
12:22 pm

Also, I don’t think they’re going to put just anyone in a firefighter uniform. I believe there will be an assessment. Again, some people have have made some very foolish mistakes in their past that they hope to redeem. We shouldn’t think that just because they are prisoners that they can never be fully functional persons of our society again. The state will not put a person incapable of fighting a fire in the role of the firefighter. For all we know they could be tasked with cleaning the fire engine and other non-critical duties. It does not necessarily mean they will automatically be fighting fires. Think about it.

commoncents

October 10th, 2011
12:22 pm

shameonhumanity- shame on you! I hope everyone doesn’t feel the way you do and think that the gov’t must provide everything for you.

“What incentive [would] counties have to educate kids, keep families strong and healthy, create opportunities for youth to lift themselves out of poverty, to rehabilitate drug and alcohol addicts and to help former prisoners reintegrate into society”

Perhaps families should be having those conversations? Or should families no longer raise their own kids and create plans to lift themselves up, and instead rely on more government?

Ben

October 10th, 2011
12:23 pm

It won’t work, especially picking crops in South Georgia. They are not acclimated or motivated to keep up with the Mexicans plus they’re about 7 generations behind the groups that use to really do “hard labor” of the type seen on Cool Hand Luke.

So the end result is that the legislature has run off the illegal alien work force, the crops are going to rot in the fields and we’re going to pay higher food costs. We have to honestly ask and answer was it worth it?

edinatlanta

October 10th, 2011
12:23 pm

Having them clean and landscape government buildings is one thing but I dont think private farms should benefit from prison labor. We lock up more people than any other country. Do we want to turn agriculture over to the state to run with forced labor? What are we turning into here??? Prisioners as firefighters????? I mean you cant make this stuff up…

whocares

October 10th, 2011
12:27 pm

I have always thought about sending prisoners off to war to let them fight for their freedom. If they make it back, they are free to rejoin society. If they don’t, then they paid their debt to society…

Pat

October 10th, 2011
12:28 pm

Why are people angry over this? These people did a crime and need to do something other than sit and watch TV all day and workout. How about giving something back to the society that is paying for their “room and board?” Maybe it will show them that doing crimes is not worth it when you have to actually do something in jail.
Having them being firefighters is a stupid idea. I would not trust them on coming to put out fires when human life is at stake. Also, why would you take the jobs away from people that train and actually want to be there to help society instead of people who commit crimes that are against society. That does not make sense to me.

shameonhumanity

October 10th, 2011
12:29 pm

In case you didn’t already know, corporations and towns are already raking in $$$ on prisoners and your tax dollars. Many prisons are privatized and there is profit to be made on building prisons and once they are built, they will need to fill them. Your tax dollars will still be feeding, housing, clothing prisoners – but perhaps it will be even more of them now. Its free labor for corporations that will then raise the prise of your produce while your wages become stagnant or your jobs disappear. An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere and none of us are immune. It could be your son or daughter who makes a foolish mistake and gets sent off to a slave colony, so don’t be blinded by the stigma attached to criminals.

Tech '10

October 10th, 2011
12:30 pm

Makes Cents: I think you are asking too much out of some of the readers. I would personally be up for giving inmates that met a certain set of criteria to be put on construction jobs. That way they learn a trade for when they get out and gov’t buildings can be built for less. Make them framers or drywallers, make them pick up the trash, something. Part of the reason why criminals come out and almost certainly go back is that they have a stigma around them now and not one new skill to show for it most of the time. Heck, bring shop classes to the prison, it’s not like these people are convicted serial rapists and murderers. Most of them got busted for pot or for shoplifting a gas station. They deserve a second chance just as much as we deserve them not being a tax burden anymore.

sls

October 10th, 2011
12:31 pm

good idea!! it’s about time they have to get up and do something!

commoncents

October 10th, 2011
12:32 pm

Providing inamtes with food, board, medical etc for free is ok, but asking them to repay some of their debt while they are still incarcerated is slavery?

Sounds like most of you are defining slavery as working at a job you don’t like…

edinatlanta

October 10th, 2011
12:32 pm

do you dream of living in a “Road Warrior” kind of world? Admit it, you think that would be kind of cool dont you?

Jim Crow

October 10th, 2011
12:39 pm

Shame on the state of Ga. always want something for nothing, this is slavery.

AVM

October 10th, 2011
12:39 pm

What about as police officers? Or, better yet, government officials – they’re probably just as self-serving. Seriously, peaches and manual labor are one thing, but fighting fires and other critical government duties is laughable (and scary).

Makes Cents

October 10th, 2011
12:41 pm

Tech ‘10, I completely agree with you. I watch the comment board from time to time. I don’t know if a lot of people put a lot of thought into the holistic view of rehabilitating criminals. I like your point about the reason some of these criminals go back. They have not been equipped with the tools to function in society AND many people are not willing to give them a chance. This may be a bad example, but look at the star of “Catch Me if You Can”. In the end, he turned his deviant behavior into a constructive use for our government. No, not every story will be as successful, but a second chance is not too much to ask for. agree @ us not having them as tax burden btw

shameonhumanity

October 10th, 2011
12:42 pm

commoncents – common sense tells us that there are many families who want to do better but who need help – be it opportunities for training for better paying jobs, temporary assistance, good schools, or incitives for companies to hire people at a “living wage”, etc. Not all poor families are sitting on their butts waiting for a hand out.By investing in healthier, stronger families, they can give back to our communities when they become business owners and/or educated employees. You’re so quick to think that I’m advocating that gov’t do take care of people (I believe in hand ups, not hand outs) but you turn a blind side to ways the government is doing so much to help the less-than-needy. Your tax dollars fund very powerful and wealthy entities here and abroad, and its a much higher percentage of your paycheck than the mythical “welfare queens’ bite off. Here’s a question, what about this farm scheme will make your tax burden lighter? Do you think there will be less prisoners as a result this or that the profits prisoners make will be reinvested into the prisoners care?

LydiasDad

October 10th, 2011
12:43 pm

It will work if the wage is increased to make it worthwhile. If you continue to pay prisoners the illegal wage we pay illegals, then it won’t work. Common sense. If you think we should keep illegals because “it helps business”, then let’s also cut business taxes and get rid of OSHA. Those hurt business too.

ROCK STEADY FREDDY

October 10th, 2011
12:44 pm

This is a great idea! So many positives can come from this!

DD

October 10th, 2011
12:47 pm

This is only correct as the prisoners need to be made to know that jail is not an acceptable way of life. As far as the chants of slavery go, why should a lot of my pay be sent for those who do not work? They eat better food than I do and have better cars than the one I drive. Is that not considered another form of slavery?

gbal

October 10th, 2011
12:49 pm

Not all for the prisioners as firefighters? Something doesnt sit right with that for me.

As for working fields and landscaping…. All for it. My only issue is ” they will work for much less…$1.50 per hour”.

First, these folks ar prisioners for a reason. They have taken a liberty or right from someone else to land in the prision. They should have no rights during the term they are serving their penalty to socioty.

The shoud not be paid for this work. Not even the $1.50 per hour. The government should charge individual landowners the $1.50 for the services of picking crops…. but this $1.50 per hour should go directly towards the cost of running the prisions/housing inmates. Thus offsetting the taxpayer cost of supporting prisions.

Anyone who says this would be back to slavery days is pathetic. These people have committed a crime for gods sake and they should not have any rights.

Rational Citizen

October 10th, 2011
12:50 pm

This system is ripe for abuse. How long until these slave-laborers begin complaining that there aren’t enough prisoners to do the jobs they want done? And since we’re paying to house and feed these prisoners, how much of a cut is the taxpayer going to get from anyone who employs these people?

Joe

October 10th, 2011
12:53 pm

Cheap labor is cheap labor. If not illegal’s, will be prisoners. First at the farms, second firefighters later in construction and police officers or who knows what is next.

DawgDad

October 10th, 2011
12:54 pm

Working prisoners in a private enterprise is a horrific idea, brought to you by many of the same people who brought us illegal immigrant workers. If a skilled illegal immigrant can earn $10 per hour, then common sense dictates the job is worth more. If that drives up onion prices, so be it; otherwise, it’s labor racketeering and corruption of a public institution at its worst.

Rational Citizen

October 10th, 2011
12:54 pm

to gbal…”these people…should not have any rights.” Are you even being serious? How presumptuous of you to pretend to know the circumstances behind every single person serving in the Georgia prison system. I hope a loved one of yours gets locked up and gets beaten unconscious or raped behind bars. Let’s hear you talk about how they have no rights then.

Rational Citizen

October 10th, 2011
12:56 pm

The amount of ignorance and sheer idiocy on this comment section is appalling.

Derwood

October 10th, 2011
12:57 pm

We have a fire truck that is manned by inmates and they do an excellent job. They do as told adn when fire is over they help other depts load hoses, etc.
These guys also appreciate opportunity to get out of cell for training and fire runs.

DawgDad

October 10th, 2011
12:57 pm

Maybe they could round up the “Occupy Atlanta” bunch, jail them for trespassing, and farm them out for a week or two of “social justice”? Just saying.

Real American

October 10th, 2011
1:00 pm

Rational Citizen, the AJC encourages as much ignorance as possible in their comment section.

Real American

October 10th, 2011
1:01 pm

DawgDad, and I’m sure you want them to round up the Tea Party protestors too right?

George Mathis

October 10th, 2011
1:01 pm

Someone else’s opinion isn’t “ignorance,” despite what you hear on talk radio.

Jack

October 10th, 2011
1:01 pm

Prisoners harvesting crops should have been happening a long time ago.

Choices

October 10th, 2011
1:02 pm

shameonhumanity needs to get off the “slippery slop”. No sympathy. It’t the perfect way to get something back for good money spent on bad people. If they don’t want to do it……obey the law no matter what your color.

Question everything

October 10th, 2011
1:03 pm

Using inmate labor for government buildings and lands make sense, repaying the amount of money it takes to feed abd house them. I do not agree with using them in the private sector because that is influencing competition. Who dictates what farmers gets how many inmates? If I’m friends with the warden do I get the 20 strongest guys, or if I slept with his sister I get no help from inmates and I’m forced to compete with the guy who’s not paying for labor? Question I think worth asking. Plus there are plenty of government/ state lands, parks, and buildings that could use the free labor.

art

October 10th, 2011
1:05 pm

Slavery returns to Georgia, some things never change.

Love it

October 10th, 2011
1:05 pm

Love the idea and they need to add one more thing …..have them sing Sam cooke’s Working on the chain Gang….Ooh, aah, ooh, aah Ooh, aah, ooh, aah (Well, don’t you know)
That’s the sound of the men Working on the chain gang That’s the sound of the men
Working on the chain gang All day long they’re singing Ooh, aah, ooh, aah Ooh, aah, ooh, aah…….

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!

crackbaby

October 10th, 2011
2:38 pm

Sounds like it’s a good time to get back into the plantation bid’ness. Get us some low/no cost labor and have the state take care of employee complaints, health care, etc. The flag may be gone but the confederacy lives!

KGray

October 10th, 2011
2:39 pm

Civic duty or slavery and Pat, when a person who volunteers that his or her church, civic organization or a non profit, it is something that they choose to do and not made to do as apart of their job. def, I agree all people should work if they want to receive any type of compensation and nothing should be given. Therefore, as I stated why not allow the RICH farm owner sponsor their illegal works and allow them an opportunity to become citizens. I see know one has agreed with that idea, and I guess the reason for that, is because, that would be fair and the right thing to do for the people.

Toby

October 10th, 2011
2:40 pm

“cheap labor”… it’s slavery. The people in prison for illegal drug offences are being abused by the state; prohibition is extremely unethical. We should not be using people as slaves because they used a drug or sold a drug to consenting adults. As for those few who should be in prison, they should be paid a wage that enables them to realistically escape poverty.

Pat

October 10th, 2011
2:47 pm

KGray, that is up to the farmer if they want to sponsor the illegal. They are allowed that option and I do not know if they took it or not. It is their choice.
The inmates are not being used as slaves, since the article says it is their choice to work there or not and they will get compensated for their time.

KGray

October 10th, 2011
3:05 pm

Pat, the reason none of the RICH farm owners haven’t taken that opportunity is;because, they want to allowed to continue to pay illgals low wages off the books and avoid paying payroll taxes.. Once they sponsor the workers they will have to payroll taxes on each worker and that was something that they didn’t do or not willing to do. It all about PROFITS and nothing else and if paying taxes would keep their profits down, tthen why not get the Governor and other state officals involved in order to avoid paying taxes. Get prisoners and cheap labor and not have to pay any payroll taxes; because, they don’t have to pay taxes on prisoners.

Teresa

October 10th, 2011
3:07 pm

chain gangs
right or wrong?

Pat

October 10th, 2011
3:11 pm

KGray, that is correct. That is why the farmers did not sponsor them, it cost too much. But if you give that incentive for them not to have to pay payroll taxes, then every other business will want that same incentive. The prisoners are still making money while doing work. Would you rather have an illegal doing the job or an inmate who wants to do the job?

Teresa

October 10th, 2011
3:17 pm

Right! Once they are on payroll tax then the employer must pay taxes to fund unemployment and that is all a mess in itself. They relished in undocumented workers because of this and not to have to pay benefits, then the undocumented worker is in fear of ICE and the smoke and mirrors American dream! This has been happening for years; I say some of these businesses get what they deserve trying to take the cheap way out and mistreating employees I say they burn!

Zac

October 10th, 2011
3:43 pm

Take jobs from people who have risked there lives for people they don’t even know? How about have them pave roads and ride garbage trucks. What idiot thought to put criminals on a job that is for the tax paying citizens? Is a criminal who you want your family member to have their life in the hands of. Dumb@$$.

Someone who actually researched

October 10th, 2011
4:04 pm

For all of those who say that the illegals have a choice to apply for work visas or that the farm owners could sponsor them, please take the time to actually look at what it takes to become a US Citizen. A migrant worker would not qualify under our current system because they do not fit the list of specialty occupations that a company can sponsor a worker for and unless they are seeking asylum or marry a US Citizen there are almost no other paths. As for prisoners working in a private sector postition, let’s let the 9%+ unemployment fill those jobs first.

mirebrand1

October 10th, 2011
4:24 pm

This is what they do in N.Korea and China. If they want to work, pay a decent wage. If the wages were appropriate people would be lined up for the jobs but as long as slave labor is legal we are closer to being a 3rd World country. Disgusting and I bet it’s a democratic plan. The party of MLK was against forced labor. Remember the Arkansas blood scandle?

rk

October 10th, 2011
5:21 pm

Lizzard

October 10th, 2011
6:34 pm

I am all for inmates working to cover what we pay in taxes to house, medicate, feed and clothe them. This has nothing to do with wanting to “create more criminals for cheap labor” and everything to do with tapping an unused resource of labor to counteract money spent on supporting these criminals. Any yes, these people are someone’s mother, father, son, daughter, niece or nephew but they did the crime and must do the time.

This is not slave labor…do you complain when they are cleaning up trash on the highway or cutting the grass? Of course you don’t. Would you rather continue supporting them with your hard earned money while they live the life of Riley? Of course you don’t. A little manual labor never hurt anyone and just may give some of them some self respect and convince them to not commit a crime again, lest they be “pickin cotton” again, sah!

Linda

October 10th, 2011
6:46 pm

Am I missing something here, I was thinking the prisoners are given the “option” if they want to work in the fields or not for a small amount of money. I would not be a bit surprised if most turned it down. They are not requiring them to work, don’t think so.

Solyndra

October 10th, 2011
7:19 pm

“…a Georgia county is planning to use inmates to man fire stations.”

Hmm, not sure I’d want a guy who’s doing time for arson showing up to put out my house fire.

Pat

October 10th, 2011
9:16 pm

You are correct Linda. People on here are missing this major point and calling this slavery.

becky

October 11th, 2011
1:43 am

The goverment should have had prisoners working in fields long ago. Don’t let them sit around and do nothing. If they work hard they have no energy to fight and cause problems. When I grew up we lived very close to the prison. The inmates farmed our land for their own food. We were given as much of the crops that we wanted. Let them work. We should have them taking care of all the parks that we have in Georgia.

Sue Jenkins

October 12th, 2011
2:28 pm

This is nothing new. When I grew up in Alabama, prisioners were often used to work on large farms. This was before illegials starting flooding in.

Cheryl Eversole

October 12th, 2011
4:07 pm

I think Prisoners should work and earn their keep, it’s expensive to house and feed the multitudes of prisoners, especially, when you witness the numbers in the USA now behind bars. Picking cotton, onions, pecans, etc., picking up trash, cutting grass, manual labor is one thing, but putting out fires, no thank you….non-violent prisoners should be farmed out for labor, it’s better their back than our tax dollars…maybe some time in the hot sun pickin’ cotton will make them think about the next crime they commit. Might be the answer to all these repeat offenders….

SavyShopper

October 12th, 2011
7:00 pm

If they have been screened for mental stability and maybe promised a reduced sentence if they perform well on the job, then this might be fiesable…!!!

cat

October 13th, 2011
1:05 am

1.) I dont agree with “renting” prisoners to private industry, but i think ALL prisons should be totally self sufficent… they should grow thier own crops, raise beef, chicken, pigs, grow cotton to make their own clothes, maintain the prison, recyle the trash, everything. even if one prison was a cotton growing prison and another raised cattle and another grew veggies, they could trade with each other, but the whole system should be self supporting. i see no problem with prisoners doing public work, such as picking up trash on highways or other government work, just not for the private sector. the few dollars a day that the prisoners earn can be put into their commisary accounts to pay for their toothpaste and snacks, lessening the burdon on the families who put money in their accounts monthly for these items.
2.) when my ex was in prison here in texas, he earned about $20 a week and i got it as child support.. of course i never got what all he owed me, but it was better than nothing. I think they should calculate the cost of housing each prisoner and pay them minimum wage, minus a certain percentage to pay back thier housing.
3.) there are already private run juvenile prison here in texas that are in trouble for extending juveniles prison terms to make more money and a judge that was taking kickbacks to send kids who committed relatively minor infractions to the private prison from the owners. i can see this type of abuse would get worse if it were all prisoners. they are already taking away so many of our freedoms, whats next? passing laws against homelessness, lack of heath insurance or unemployment? that would give us even more prisoners for their dirty little work scheme. and of course the official word would be that its totally voluntary.. yet we all know those who didnt want to work would have privledges taken away, sentences extended, harrassment. its just not a good program.

Daniel

October 13th, 2011
7:35 am

Jesus there really is no pleasing you liberals. In Georgia you can become a full-time career firefighter with a criminal record. This is one of the many ways in which those that have been incarcerated can return to society will a valuable skill set.

Picking cotton….give me a break.The counties have every incentive to build strong families. However it has long been Democratic Party tradition to do everything to destroy the family, and keep as many people in poverty as possible. People in poverty vote for democrats.

Brian Covert

October 13th, 2011
8:18 am

who do you think fights most of the wildland forest fires already?

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