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Prison labour

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Prison labour

Postby Voldemort » Mon Apr 10, 2017 1:54 pm

I recently watched a BBC documentary “Prisons Undercover”, and whilst I realised the prison service was under pressure, I hadn’t appreciated how out-of-control and unsustainable the current system appears.

Whilst this opens up multiple areas of discussion such as how is it possible that the availability of drugs in prisons is as widespread as depicted, my main question to the forum is: given the cost of running a prison, why do we not require prisoners to work full-time to contribute towards their upkeep?

There are any number of low-skilled jobs that could be carried out by the prison population - this could also instil a work-ethic as well as potential to acquire new skills for when they leave the prison.
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Re: Prison labour

Postby shootist » Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:03 pm

A variation might be to wore up treadmills to electricity generators. Then, instead of sentencing a criminal to time in prison, they can be sentenced to, say, two hundred kilowatt hours. The faster they tread, the quicker they're free.
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Re: Prison labour

Postby 3.14 » Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:07 pm

very dystopian.
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Re: Prison labour

Postby atticus » Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:22 pm

The question is why prisoners are not made to work in the way the OP describes.

Is there anyone with sufficient understanding of the penal system who can give an answer?
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Re: Prison labour

Postby Voldemort » Mon Apr 10, 2017 4:59 pm

3.14 wrote:very dystopian.

In what sense?

Appreciating that the creators of the documentary presented their own perspective – it certainly seemed like the prisoner population were not being “rehabilitated” and had far too much access to drugs and idle free time.

The presenter mentioned that it currently costs c. £40-65k per year, per prisoner – is it unfair to recoup some of that cost as well as getting individuals used to the idea of work/discipline?
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Re: Prison labour

Postby miner » Mon Apr 10, 2017 5:58 pm

Prisoners in Germany are used as labour for non-complex assembly processes by industrial firms.

I say non-complex, in the sense that no expensive or specialized or bulky equipment is needed for the processes.
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Re: Prison labour

Postby shootist » Mon Apr 10, 2017 6:07 pm

If I understand the prison system correctly (ish) the concept of forced labour in prisons is regarded as a form of slavery. It used to be that many prisoners were sentenced to hard labour, which usually meant turning large rocks into little stones the hard way. This, for better or for worse, fell into disuse. Forcing them to work would also not doubt be against their human rights. However, the opportunity to work for modest reward is apparently available and this allows the purchase of tobacco and other treats which can be traded for drugs, phones, and sodomy.
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Re: Prison labour

Postby 3.14 » Mon Apr 10, 2017 7:02 pm

If I understand the prison system, When someone is sent to prison, it's a punishment for that individual and it protects society by removing him/her from the population. That doesn't give the prison system any authority to make that person a slave.

The idea of using prisoners to cycle and generate electricity has been covered in the excellent Black Mirror episode https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifteen_Million_Merits
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Re: Prison labour

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Mon Apr 10, 2017 8:38 pm

Shootist is not correct that prison labour would contravene a prisoner's human rights: work done in the ordinary course of detention is specifically excluded from Article 4. Hard labour or similar may constitute inhuman treatment, however. I bow to his superior knowledge about the availability of sodomy and how it is procured.

I think nearly everybody agrees that it's good for prisoners to work for much the same reasons that the OP identifies. The problems, however, are that the type of cheap, unskilled work that prisoners might do simply doesn't exist any more, and also it's not considered proper for prisoners to do work that would otherwise be done for a proper wage by someone on the outside.

The other reason (maybe the major reason) that prisoners often don't have the opportunity to work is that it's cheaper to lock them up.
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Re: Prison labour

Postby dls » Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:08 am

The problems, however, are that the type of cheap, unskilled work that prisoners might do simply doesn't exist any more, and also it's not considered proper for prisoners to do work that would otherwise be done for a proper wage by someone on the outside.


Precisely.
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