As we listen to the debates regarding whether or not minimum wage employees deserve a wage by which they might actually be able to sustain life, there is another issue that is rarely introduced into the conversation. Prison labor is a direct competitor of those seeking to survive on the most meager of incomes.
Democrats have acknowledged that prison labor is a form of slavery. But to date no one seems to be acknowledging the fact that for profit prison systems are in direct competition with those trying to subsist on minimum wage. In addition to creating competition with the U.S. workforce for jobs, the prisons that employ inmate labor also gouge those same inmates to increase prison profits.
Add to this the fact that there are politicians who personally profit from prison labor, the fact that a disproportionate number of inmates are incarcerated for possessing small amounts of illegal substances like marijuana, and that a disproportionate number of inmates are people of color and you have a modern day version of slavery…..that as slavery did in 1850 America now also competes with low income wage earners.
We the people need to address this injustice in our society. We need to eliminate for profit prisons. We need to pay a living wage to those who have kept our systems running during Covid. We need to legalize marijuana at the Federal level or at a minimum stop destroying the lives of those caught with small amounts. Read more: Mother Jones on Private Prison Political Contributions, Pew Research People of Color in Prison, Forbes people incarcerated for possession