Julia writes –
An article in the Independent caught my eye. It is about low paid prison workers. The thrust of the article is about how this will take away jobs from non imprisoned people. But the real issue, to me, is that it incentivises putting people in prison. Profits are to be made from sending people to prison. In the US, there are privately owned prisons. Have we got them here yet?
They are setting up slave labour camps by stealth. We are all collectively agreeing that it is a good thing that prisoners work, that prisoners can be used for labour, that they must not be paid. Yet we carry on assuming that the prisoners are evil people who have committed horrific crimes that deserve punishment. Our prison numbers are increasing, and we are told crime is getting worse. The scene is set already.
We think slave camps will be called slave camps and we will spot them when they happen, but they are already here, and they are called prisons. Anyone can be sent there and will be. You do not need to be evil. You just need a judge to delare you guilty.
It makes me wonder if the Nazi camps were set up by stealth under the noses of the people too, and they all believed it was valid and the right thing to do, and went along with it.
An urgent investigation has been launched into government plans to double the number of prisoners being paid to work while still behind bars.
Ken Clarke, the Justice Secretary, has told officials he wants to see nearly 20,000 convicts – twice the number of people currently employed by Starbucks in the UK – carrying out regular work in prison within 10 years.
But the plans have caused alarm among trade unions, who fear that a large increase in prison labour could adversely affect the job market in surrounding areas. They are now leading an investigation into the policy.
The Department of Justice has rebranded the old Prison Industries Unit as a new body called One3one Solutions and wants to increase prison revenues to £130m a year by 2021. One3one, which is named after the number of prisons in the UK estate, is offering interested companies the chance of "utilising a workforce of motivated prisoners" who, it claims, are looking to "build outstanding business relationships with you".
Prisoners are not paid the minimum wage, and labour contracts seen by the investigative website Exaro News show companies are typically paying prisons the equivalent of around £2 an hour for prisoners' labour.
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