Alabama Prisoners Might Work the Farms

Thursday, December 08, 2011

With a shortage of available farm workers, thanks to the state’s anti-illegal immigrant law, Alabama may use prisoners to pick crops.

Farmers are pushing the idea to state agricultural officials, arguing they need someone to help harvest fields following the exodus of Hispanics from the state. Immigrants fled Alabama after lawmakers adopted HB56, which requires local police to verify the immigration status of anyone reasonably suspected of being in the country illegally.
Prior to the law’s passage, the state had about 120,000 undocumented immigrants. Now, no one knows for sure how many stuck around to risk being deported if caught by authorities.
With planting season fast approaching, the farmers proposed to the state that work-release inmates be put in the fields to pick crops. But prison spokesman Brian Corbett said the state only has 2,000 work-release prisoners and most of them already have jobs.
There are currently no plans for Alabama to revive the use of chain gangs, which it re-embraced in 1995, 30 years after every state had abandoned the practice. But back then, Alabama Prison Commissioner Ron Jones said chain-gangs were practically a humanitarian necessity if prisoners were used to do work outdoors. “We have guards armed with shotguns loaded with double-aught buckshot, and are obligated by law to shoot if a prisoner tried to escape,” Jones explained. “I don't want a lot of them shot full of holes, with a bunch of medical bills and bad publicity.” If the men on the chain gang run, he said, “they won't run far.”
Alabama banned chain gangs the next year.
–Noel Brinkerhoff

Chain Gangs to Return To Roads of Alabama (by Rick Bragg, New York Times)


Nick: Windmillchaser 6 years ago
okay here we go again. whatever happened to the republican mantra, 'let the market place decide.'? using prisoners to help the farmers is a non starter. if you have obese over weight prisoners that are out of shape and wheezing you will not only have a medical problem, but a huge hospital bill if he has to go into the er, stay in icu and remain one week recovering then transferred to a long term facility for another week. that does not include any rehab both occupational and medical. now i'm sure every alabaman would love to know that the state of alabama is required to treat medical conditions of those incarcerated. so lets see, a alabaman who has no health insurance at work and is trying to pay his premiums on his health insurance watching as his rates go up. in the meantime a middle aged convict who is planting collapses of a stroke and has to be take to the hospital for treatment. who pays for this? aw that would be you good people of alabama. remember at the start of this reply that i asked about the free market? if you are a republican you allow the market place decide. rememer newt gingrich? on december 19, 2008 mr. gingrich said about the bail out of the auto companies: gingrich: well, i think there's a pretty bit of anger about congress and the entire mess in washington. i think there's hope that president-elect obama will somehow represent a change, but i have to say that the -- the things we're seeing happen are almost unimaginable. here you have the u.s. congress rejecting help for the auto companies saying that it shouldn't be passed unless there are very strong changes and having the united auto workers in particular reject those changes. now you have the president saying he doesn't care what the congress did, he's going to write a check for $17 billion. fundamentally wrong in every way. the fact is that the united airlines, for example, went into bankruptcy, spent four years reorganizing, came out of bankruptcy, is healthier and stronger today, and would not have survived without that reorganization. giving these companies $17 billion without having them change their behavior simply throws away the money, buys a few extra months, and then the companies are going to continue getting weaker and weaker. so according to mr. gingrich the farmers can declare bankruptcy and reorganize, say in about 4 years as did the airlines. now farmers, and by the way i live in a farming community, were hit hard and farms were going under. so if you believe in the republican mantra, let the market place decide, well there you have it. pay a decent wage and you will have workers. find a way to include basic health and dental eye care insurance. wake up people the days of low wages are over. if you look at the way this plays out, the new emerging countries like china and india are passing us up. the workers in the united states are now the underpaid workers. at 7.25 per hour the minimum federal wage will not support a family of three. and if that family does not have health insurance you and i and every other person pays for that in the trip to the emergency room. you think a hospital is going to eat the usual cost. that cost in 2008, uninsured people under age 65 averaged $1203. that was 2008 we are nearing 2012. no, hospitals will pass that cost onto you, your county government. the farmers of alabama need to understand that you will not have a dependable work force with the wages they pay and the benefits missing. the world has changed. changed radically to where we are not the great power any more. if you pay by the crate, you better raise that crate amount or go hourly.

Leave a comment