Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Make forced labor in American prisons illegal and end legal slavery once and for all.
All across America, hundreds of thousands of prisoners are being forced to work for little to no money. Though slavery is illegal in the United States, it remains legal in the context of inmates who have been duly convicted. This means that government agencies and corporations are allowed to extract cheap (in many cases, even free) labor at will from a pool of workers who have no right to organize or represent themselves. Under the guise of rehabilitative job training, inmates are being exploited. If we truly wish to eradicate slavery from America, then forced labor in our prisons must be abolished.
Compulsory labor from inmates in America occurs under conditions that are simply unfair and immoral. For one, inmates have no legal leverage against exploitative practices. Multiple courts have ruled against prisoners who have fought for fair wages or safer workplaces by citing the relationship between prisoners and prisons as penological as opposed to economic.
Even as government-owned outfits such as Federal Prison Industries make hundreds of millions of dollars a year from prison labor, their imprisoned employees are robbed of rights as basic as disability compensation and overtime pay. Without the right to organize, and without protection from courts, inmates have no way to protect themselves from exploitation while corporate and state entities profit from their labor.
As inmates from Missouri to Texas to Oregon prepare to strike against forced labor conditions, one can no longer ignore the fact that slavery in American prisons is a national crisis which must be addressed. President Obama needs to take a stand against this immoral system which has prolonged slavery into the 21st century. By signing the petition below, you can help urge President Obama to take executive action against forced labor in American prisons.
Dear President Obama,
Forced labor in American prisons is unfair and immoral. Inmates have no legal recourse to ensure fair treatment in these scenarios and are thus being exploited for the financial benefit of corporate and state entities.
There are no financial nor moral reasons which could justify such a system. Forcing inmates to work for little to no money while profiting from their labor does nothing to rehabilitate their character. It only proves that fiscal gains trump the dignity of inmates in the minds of prison officials and politicians.
I urge you to respond to the concerns of inmates and activists all over America by taking executive action against forced labor in American prisons.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Associated Press