Saturday, November 5, 2022

Is a Prison-labor ban a smart move? I am voting against Amendment 3.

By Chandra Bozelko, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 4, 2022 - I worked in York Correctional Institution’s kitchen for five years. I earned 75 cents a day for the first year, then got a raise to $1.75 a day. That job is the reason I’m alive. The work was menial, but it provided physical and mental escape from the Connecticut prison cell where I was serving a sentence for larceny, identity theft and improper use of a credit card.

A movement against prison labor seems to be gaining ground. The 13th Amendment outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude, “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” The constitutions of 19 states have similar language. On Tuesday voters in five of them—Alabama, Louisiana, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont—will decide whether to rewrite their charters to abolish that exception.

Colorado voters led the way by passing a similar ballot measure in 2018; Nebraska and Utah followed in 2020. So far these measures have had no effect on the state’s prison-labor programs, although litigation is pending against Colorado’s. If it succeeds, the state may have to pay prisoners minimum wage if they work at all.

Rod's Comment:  It appears to me that the same concerns expressed in the above article could apply to Tennessee should the voters adopt Amendment 3 in the upcoming election. I have not read anything to allay my concerns. I am voting "no" on Amendment #3. 

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