Sometimes I read about things that make we want to climb up on the roof and scream with outrage. You, too?
Recently I read about how prison officials are using prisoners to do "volunteer" work for local businesses for a wage far lower than the federal minimum. Some of these business leaders, I had thought previously, were good, upstanding people, involved in the community and serving in various leadership roles. But they are profiting on what is basically slave labor. If the prisoner gets injured, too bad. If they don't want to do the job, they are punished. If they want to better themselves and prepare for life after prison by getting an education, that gets second place. It is infuriating.
When I was a youngster, I remember visiting some relatives in a Southern state. My uncle's house abutted a prison facility. From his back yard, I remember watching through the fence to the fields on the prison property. As I watched, a chain gang -- in their black and white striped prison uniforms, shackled to each other at the ankles -- was led out to work in the fields. I remember at least two prison guards on horseback holding long rifles as they watched the prisoners work under the hot sun. As I looked closer, I remember noticing that nearly every prisoner was African American. Even as a young girl, I recognized this as another form of slavery and it made me mad.
Prisons (in this case, for-profit private prisons) are making money on the very people who need rehabilitation and education, not exploitation and cruelty. Is this who we are as a country? Is this what we truly value? Has greed so corrupted our soul that we see every human as an expendable resource?
Yes, I needed to rant, but it is relevant, if you will bear with me. More on this next week.