Yeah. I’m about to post the least-popular blog of ALL TIME. Because I know my entire base is going to hate it.
Let me preface this by saying that I despite Hillary Clinton. I want to take every opportunity to attack her. Anything she does wrong, I want to take it, and tear into her, and never, ever let it go, until the Clinton legacy has been wiped from the face of the earth.
But, I can’t get upset, or even oppose, this ‘prison slavery’ thing. And here is why. Please, look at the rational thinking, before you decide I’m a terrible person who is no better than the Southerners who tried to secede so they could practice slavery.
Reason 1: community service
See, people who aren’t in prison are still sentenced to community service. And I know what some will say: ‘Well, you get to choose how you fulfill that service!’ Okay. But really, there are only a few choices. And we could give those choices to people in prison who are required to work. ‘You have five choices: which do you want?’ We could ask them that.
Reason 2: who pays for prison?
Why should law-abiding tax-payers pay for people to be imprisoned?
I recognize that letting anyone make a profit off prison labour is dangerous. So no, nobody should get to do that. But demanding that prisoners be worked so that their imprisonment is not a burden on society… I cannot, in principle, oppose that. Even while I realize that in practice, it can lead to abuses.
Reason 3: Slavery is unconstitutional… for law-abiding citizens
From the start, the constitutional protections are for law-abiding citizens only. The constitution guarantees a person will not be confined against their will, for example. But we imprison people. So, when people point out the anti-slavery amendment, my response is sure, for law-abiding people, regardless of skin tone, but what about the law-breakers?
Think about it: imprisonment would be called kidnapping, if not applied to those whom we consider law-breakers and ‘evil.’ Nobody would go along with it. In fact, one could argue that by imprisoning someone, we are interfering with their right to ‘liberty and happiness,’ because we are certainly imposing on the former, possibly the latter. The point is that punishments are things that violate the rights of the innocent. Period. End of story. We ban cruel and unusual punishments, sure. Saying ‘You must work’ is not cruel and unusual. In fact, pretty much everyone has to work to survive. Ergo, I have no objection to telling a prisoner ‘You work or you don’t get food.’ Because that is how it is for literally every other person (as long as the work required is not beyond their bodily strength).
The fact is, that making prisoners work for food is actually less a change for them (vs. ordinary people), than telling them where they have to live and sleep! We tell everyone they have to work for food, after all, and most people have only a few choices in that regard!
What is ‘cruel and unusual’ is telling an unconvicted person they have to pay for the survival of a convicted criminal. Why the fuck should my labour go to supporting the survival of Jack Murderer?
Reason 4: the new Jim Crow
I know that a book as been written, ‘The New Jim Crow,’ talking about how prison labour is a new slavery for black people. And I’m not trying to specifically refute these claims. However, the fact remains that the problem revealed herein is not that prisoners are worked, but that 1. black people make up a disproportionate number of those workers, and 2. Prisoners being worked are used to give a profit to corporations. In other words, this problem would remain, whether blacks, whites, or an equal proportion, were being imprisoned. And it would remain as long as the profits were being passed on to corporations. The racial element is a result of biased application of the criminal justice system, which is bad (more on this perhaps later), but not an objection to the fundamental idea of prison labour.
So yes, let’s apply laws equally, regardless of race. And let’s stop making a profit for corporations off prison labour. Instead, let’s pay for prison via prison labour, and send people to prison based on legal violations, not skin colour.
Reason 5: no benefit to prisoners
Well, maybe, maybe not. I would argue that getting to get out of their cells is a benefit. I would argue that interacting with others is a benefit. I would argue that getting to perform beneficent acts for society is a benefit, and could even teach these prisoners something about living in society productively when they are released. It could even teach them a marketable skill, and help them avoid future crime.
In other words, the prisoners aren’t necessarily entirely without personal benefit, even if they do not get paid.
Look, I’d love to bash Clinton for ‘owning slaves,’ as has been popular on Twitter. I really would. I’d love to bash that shithead for every transgression known to mankind. I fucking hate Hillary. She epitomizes all that is wrong in the world.
But I can’t fault her for using prison labour. I want to. I really want to. But I can’t. She is an horrible human being, but prison labour is actually a rare good idea. I’m afraid that on this point, like on ‘gun control,’ I must take a position that disagrees with most of my fellow liberals.