Man Forced To Do Prison Labor While Awaiting Trial Sues For ‘Slavery’

It’s always good to see someone pushing back against the grotesqueries of the prison-industrial complex. Via Boing Boing:

In 2008, Finbar McGarry, a grad student at the University of Vermont, was arrested on gun charges. McGarry’s charges were ultimately dropped, and he was released. But while he was awaiting trial, his jailers ordered him to work for $0.25 in the jail laundry or be condemned to solitary confinement. He’s now suing, saying that this amounted to slavery.  If he wins, it will have huge repercussions for America’s jails, where pre-trial prisoners who have not been convicted of any charge are forced into hard labor.

During the course of his work, McGarry says he contracted a serious MRSA lesion on his neck—a potentially deadly bacterial infection. In 2009, he pressed a suit in federal court for $11 million—claiming he was made a slave in violation of his 13th Amendment rights. The judge ruled that McGarry’s constitutional rights had not been violated, but that finding was overturned on appeal last week.

11 Comments on "Man Forced To Do Prison Labor While Awaiting Trial Sues For ‘Slavery’"

  1. I loath the American Penal System. The whole idea of corporations owning prisons, and making money off these men sickens me. No person should be forced to labor, or be paid below minimum wage for their work under any circumstances. We must put our efforts into rehabilitation, not middle aged punishments.

    • One might think that those who run and/or have stock in privately-owned prisons would likely go so far as to lobby for ridiculous laws and other efforts – such as the “War” on Some Drugs – to get as many people into prisons as they can and thus make as much money as they can. I don’t mean to assume that everyone in the industry is that way, but I am inclined to believe that the majority are.

      Of course, using prisons for punishment and forced labor (or, to use honest language: slavery) really doesn’t do much – if anything – to “help” the convicts, and often only exacerbates their problems and thus society’s problems as a whole. I totally agree that more if not all effort in this area should be put toward rehabilitation and treatment for the convicts issues. And I don’t mean Room 101 “treatment”.

    • Jin The Ninja | Aug 20, 2012 at 6:25 pm |

       i completely agree.

  2. Call them what they are.  They are concentration camps using slave labor provided by the state for monopolized corporations.  We’ve seen this before in the last century

  3. InfvoCuernos | Aug 20, 2012 at 9:21 pm |

    I agree that prison labor is a form of slavery, but there are valid work programs that actually train prisoners in vocations that they can continue after their eventual release back into society.  I think these programs are vital to “rehabilitation”, but should be completely voluntary.  The problem is that the penal system considers convicted felons as less than human and without any rights.  If you treat a person like a bad dog, don’t be surprised when they bite you. 

  4. The US prison/slavery system is brutish and Naziesque.
    Even China has a better prison system, and that’s not saying much better,
    but Uncle Homeland is just about the worst in the world when it comes to imprisonment.

    But the ability to hold someone indefinitely without trial is the American Way,
    which why they call that place:
    The Land of the Free My Ass!

  5. Jeffery Allen | Aug 22, 2012 at 6:47 pm |

    I hope this guy wins.

  6. Gabrielsnicker | Sep 9, 2012 at 1:52 am |

    Naomi, the system does not make money off these men.  these man are provided far more in living amenities than they give back through cheap labor.  do you know how much it costs to take care of them?  I do, and it is a huge burden.  every prisoner SHOULD WORK, 8 hours daily, just as you and I do.  you are foolish and naive.  g Grow up.  get reality based.  go bleed for the real victims in this world.  work can be rehabilitative, as can treatment.  they can do treatment in the evenings, as you or I would have to do in our community.

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