It was 45 years ago when the infamous prison riot occurred at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York. In September of this year, American prisoners all across the United States started a nationwide protest which is still going on to this day. The protest was mainly over the grievances in which inmates have regarding how much they’re being paid for their labor behind bars.
Some of the grievances vary by state. In California, for example, the inmates there are protesting the racial discrimination they claim to be dealing with on a daily basis. In Michigan, inmates complain about excessive force being used against them by correctional officers. But the one issue they all mainly agree on is that American prisons must end legalized slavery right away because it is inhumane.
So, do you think prisoners have the right to get paid more for their labor? This is a controversial issue but you must look at the U.S. Constitution and the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court to understand it better. For starters, there is no legal requirement that prisons have to be comfortable or pleasant. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that inmates should not be dehumanized or put in danger because they still have a right to live. On the other hand, the 13th Amendment of the Constitution says that it is okay to give prisoners little or no pay for the work they do, even though slavery has been banned.
Inmate advocates complain that getting little pay for their work is dehumanizing and it is just a form of modern day slavery. The American Correctional Association has urged for the “exclusion clause” in the 13th amendment to be repealed. This is the clause which legally allows inmates to work for little or no pay. The ACA has also urged for prisoners to get paid wages that coincide with their level of productivity.