On August 21, 2018, inmates in prisons and immigration facilities across America and Canada went on hunger strikes, sit-ins, boycotts and work stoppages to protest their exploitation and abusive conditions. The protests, which lasted 19 days, were sparked by the preventable deaths of seven inmates at a riot in the Lee Correction Institution in South Carolina in April. The strikers have 10 demands which call for humane conditions, an end to slavery (average wage is 93 cents per hour but can go as low as 16 cents), racial justice, an end to denial of rehabilitation, and rescinding of unjust laws and voting rights. Below is some further historical context.
The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution (ratified on December 6, 1865,) reads as follows:
“Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
“Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
While many of us have been taught that this law abolished slavery in the United States; the words in italics in Section 1 clearly show that Congress did not intend to abolish slavery; it merely shifted slavery from the plantation to the penitentiary and as a punishment for crime. Black codes and Jim Crow, specifically designed to criminalize and enslave newly freed Blacks, soon followed the passage of the Amendment.
Today, the slave masters of old have been replaced by corporations that exploit prison slave labor in pursuit of maximum profits. Some of the companies guilty of this are: Whole Foods, McDonald’s, Target, IBM, Texas Instruments, Boeing, Nordstrom,Intel, Wal-Mart, Victoria’s Secret, Aramark, AT&T, BP, Starbucks, Microsoft, Nike, Honda, Macy’s and Sprint.
(Wikipedia, Penal Labor In The United States.)