Arturo Uruena

Professor Ramos

English 1B


Is Prison Labor Modern Day Slavery

In America we have the highest incarceration rate in the entire world, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics there about 2.3 million people incarcerated in the U.S alone. With staggering numbers like these one begins to wonder why is a country which is advanced compared to many other countries have the highest incarceration rate. There are many underlying factors which have determined this outcome one of which is the wrong people got together at the right time which made a Perfect Storm for such a Malicious plan to benefit already wealthy Republicans and  harm almost exclusively minorities. Another reason is the u.s. government allowing u.s. company to use prison inmates to work for them for as little as $0.13 an hour sometimes in horrid conditions which are not regulated by anyone. What many elected officials are realizing is that private prisons make more money than a federally funded one. As an American and a minority being of Hispanic descent and not being raised with money i have a different outlook to what a wealthy lawmaker may seem as normal. The fact that ninety percent of the private prison industry is composed of minorities is clearly a negligence on someone’s part and when you search deep enough you start to see the answers that are not justice for all.

 Ever since the 3 strikes rule started it seemed as if someone had a special interest in keeping criminals in prison for extended periods of time. Since 1990 more than 30 states have made it legal for U.S companies to use prison inmates for labor paying them less than minimum wage and profiting exponentially from there new cheap labor sources. Before slavery was abolished a Slave would live and small quarters away from their master with their family and would work From Dusk Till Dawn without pay, they were forced to believe that they were less than human and this is the only way they could survive.  some prison inmates to this day have adopted this mentality, “ 3 hots and a cot” says an old friend “ at least in prison we will get that.” “Proposition 139 approved by voters in 1990, first allowed private firms in California To use in prison labor To make and sell products on the open market.” This video really gives you a great idea of what some of the consequences can bring using felony inmates to perform the job duties of a qualified applicant on the free job market. “In California, three counties accounted for 83% of death sentences in 2009. Nationwide, “1% of counties account for roughly 44% of all death sentences.” Counties in California have shown differences in the rates at which they file juvenile cases directly in adult courts and in the way in which they charge and file offenses eligible to be sentenced under the “three strikes” law.” Yale Law & Policy Review. Fall 2014, Vol. 33 Issue 1, p75-117. 43p. California being the biggest economy in the U.S competing with other countries not states seems to be profiting immensely from keeping people incarcerated for longer periods of time.


         When something as delicate as human lives is being overlooked by wealthy people only for monetary gain then the value of the lives whom they are affecting dramatically decreases in many ways. Many people getting incarcerated and required to serve extended amounts of time are minorities which don’t come from well off families and usually poverty stricken. When the right people get together for the wrong reasons there is usually disaster amidst and that was the case when Don Hutto and Thomas Beasley got together to create the perfect partnership to do bad.” Don Hutto and Thomas Beasley recount how in 1983 they won “the first contract ever to design, build, finance, and operate a secure correctional facility in the world.” Sep/Oct2018, Vol. 43 Issue 5, p44-50. 7p. 7. What they began on that day would drastically affect millions of people incarcerated in America and benefiting only already wealthy people. Within 90 days of receiving the go ahead to build the project they went full throttle to start growing to their now 1.8-billion-dollar company,” they convinced the owner of a motel in Houston to lease his property to them, eventually hiring “all his family” as staffers to seal the deal. They surrounded the motel with a 12-foot fence topped with coiled barbed wire. They left up the “Day Rates Available” sign. “We opened the facility on Super Bowl Sunday the end of that January,” Hutto recalls. “So about 10 o’clock that night, we started receiving inmates. I took their pictures and fingerprinted them… Several other people walked them to their ‘rooms,’ if you will, and we got our first day’s pay for 87 undocumented aliens.” Sep/Oct2018, Vol. 43 Issue 5, p44-50. 7p. 7. Now the second biggest private prison owner is planned to expand with president Donald Trump in office.

   19th Century Russian Novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky Once famously observed. “ The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons “Peace Review. Oct-Dec2016, Vol. 28 Issue 4, p430-435. 6p. Since the day conquistadors came to the Americas they have been oppressing the black and brown people and it has not stopped. Now they have laws to help them keep what are now known as minorities in prison and incarcerate them at such a high rate. If as a country, we were judged based on our prisons then we hold a title of dictators forcing minorities to do deal with cruel and unusual punishments that would only affect them due to their state of being financially and geographically. Targeting poor minorities is not hard, make it to where only a certain type of people are capable of beating the justice system and everyone else can get hit with the book of law. The determining factor in who gets ahead unfortunately is money, the root of all evil, O.J Simpson was acquitted in court after almost undeniably being caught committing 2 counts of murder to his x wife and alleged lover. He had the money and used it to basically get away with murder, so boldly to even write a book later about it titled “If I DID IT”. With the ability to pay a lawyer 100,000 for his murder trial he was able to buy his way out and profit from it in the years to come. Slavery was in this country legally for 500 years and then it was supposed to be abolished, I’m not sure where the line in the Declaration Of Independence says all men are created equal except black and brown people, because this is exactly the outcome, slavery deprived African Americans from being able to save any money for themselves and families to pass down and acquire wealth throughout generations. Mexico has been no different keeping a large majority of its people impoverished and allowing the wealthy to stay wealthy. If we ever plan on beating this uphill battle against the majority wealth in this country someone from the bottom needs to rise to the top and make a difference to help uphold the intended values this country was built on. If Human life was not so easily overlooked and treated as one’s own life there could be a drastic change in the climate of doing what is right and not just monetary gain.

                             Sources cited


Parenti, Christian. “Making Prison Pay. (Cover Story).” Nation, vol. 262, no. 4, Jan. 1996, p. 11. EBSCOhost,

In this Article it uncovers many different layers to the prison complex and how it is allowed to work. Allowing private companies to hire prison inmates to work for them at a fraction of the price other workers on the free market would get paid.

Ball, W.David. “Why State Prisons?” Yale Law & Policy Review, vol. 33, no. 1, Fall 2014, pp. 75–117. EBSCOhost,

In this Article it gets deep into the laws of how things are able to work and how letting these prisons keep inmates longer and putting them on death row only hurts the economy instead of promoting it. The fact that Government is still allowing these atrocities to happen is clearly legal but unconstitutional which doesn’t make sense.

BAUER, SHANE. “Profit Centers.” Mother Jones, vol. 43, no. 5, Sept. 2018, pp. 44–50. EBSCOhost,

All private state prisons have one thing in mind and that is to make a huge profit regardless of how many lives will be affected negatively in the process, thus resulting in longer Prison sentences for inmates and higher profit margins for the people making them work. These ” Profit Centers” have been given the green light and applause from the government to allow U.S companies to do as they please.

Kang, Susan. “Forcing Prison Labor: International Labor Standards, Human Rights and the Privatization of Prison Labor in the Contemporary United Statespass:[*].” New Political Science, vol. 31, no. 2, June 2009, pp. 137–161. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/07393140902872245.

This article delves into detail on how inhumane governments around the world treat the poor in their countries, ours being no exception and holding the 1 spot on most incarcerated people in the world.


Patricia Kim (2016) What Must Be Undone, Peace Review, 28:4, 430-435, DOI: 10.1080/10402659.2016.1237086  

This Article Tells us what must be undone as a result of the years of unchallenged laws and greed to get a hold of more money. As a human race we need to value the value of life and make it equal to everyone not just those who were born rich.