In this life and the next, people and companies that strengthen the mistreatment of prisoners are destine for periods of life and death without mercy, unless the mentality is changed. According to a report from the AP, prisoners are being treated like animals of profit and not being rehabilitated, which is the purpose of incarceration.

“A loophole in the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed after the Civil War makes forced labor legal, abolishing slavery except “as punishment for a crime.” Efforts are underway to challenge that language at the federal level, and nearly 20 states are working to bring the issue before voters.

Today, about 2 million people are locked up in the U.S. – more than almost any country in the world – a number that began spiking in the 1980s when tough-on-crime laws were passed. More than 800,000 prisoners have some kind of job, from serving food inside facilities to working outside for private companies, including work-release assignments everywhere from KFC to Tyson Foods poultry plants. They’re also employed at state and municipal agencies, and at colleges and nonprofit organizations.

Prison labor began during slavery and exploded as incarceration rates soared, disproportionately affecting people of color. As laws have steadily changed to make it easier for private companies to tap into the swelling captive workforce, it has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry that operates with little oversight.

Laws in some states spell it out clearly: Prisoners aren’t classified as employees, whether they’re working inside correctional facilities or for outside businesses through prison contracts or work-release programs. That can exclude them from workers’ compensation benefits, along with state and federal laws that set minimum standards for health and safety on the job.


Prisoners across the country can be sentenced to hard labor, forced to work and punished if they refuse, including being sent to solitary confinement. They cannot protest against poor conditions, and it’s usually difficult for them to sue.

Michael Duff, a law professor at Saint Louis University and an expert on labor law, said some people think, “Well, too bad, don’t be a prisoner.” But an entire class of society is being denied civil rights, Duff said, noting that each state has its own system that could be changed to offer prisoners more protections if there’s political will.

In many states, prisoners are denied everything from disability benefits to protections guaranteed by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration or state agencies that ensure safe conditions for laborers. In Arizona, for instance, the state occupational safety division doesn’t have the authority to pursue cases involving inmate deaths or injuries.

Strikes by prisoners seeking more rights are rare and have been quickly quashed. And the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that inmates cannot join or form unions. They also can’t call an ambulance or demand to be taken to a hospital, even if they suffer a life-threatening injury on the job.

The barriers for those who decide to sue can be nearly insurmountable, including finding a lawyer willing to take the case. That’s especially true after the federal Prison Litigation Reform Act was passed almost three decades ago to stem a flood of lawsuits that accompanied booming prison populations.”

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.” St. Matt. 25:41-43.

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