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Prisoner Jobs…

The full title of the American Tribune blog includes “The Prison Experience Connection.” That’s how I started it back in May of 2010, 360 articles ago.

Voted: Most Popular Prisoner…

One of my pet peeves is the corporate media’s propaganda about “how easy prisoners have it,” such as, lounging around all day, watching TV, living on the (ever-decreasing) public dime, bulking up in weight piles and planning our next criminal enterprise after an all-too-early-release, and other conservative commentary.

Unless one is in a holding or transit situation, every prisoner works. Let me repeat that: Every prisoner has a job.

Check with anyone who’s spent time after a conviction, or get a copy of the US Constitution. The 13th Amendment (1865) abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, “except as a punishment for crime…” That’s the Law.

Prisoners have no rights. Allow me to clarify that. What prisoners have are certain “privileges” granted to them by their masters (the state and prison staff). Even then, privileges are basically for prisoner control.

These privileges include, cell and bed assignments, shopping at the commissary, visitation, telephone, mail, common-area TV, the possession of personal property (no more than a 2′ cube), vocational and educational classes, recreation time, etc.

A Typical Modern Prison Cell…

Cells with TVs, typewriters, musical instruments, cooking implements, wall pictures and posters, et cetera?  They don’t exist.

For a prisoner, these privileges become his or her entire form of “freedom” within the prison context. Withholding these privileges become the routine punishment for any offensive behavior. That could be anything from “eyeballing,” to refusal to work, or disobeying an order.

Of course, prison authorities include quite extraordinary punishments as well.  Not only can one lose their privileges, but you could be sent to the Segregated Housing Unit (the hole) and locked down in a sensory-deprivation cell (except for all the banging and screaming).

A lot more of y’all are gonna have the opportunity to learn these facts first-hand. From where I stand, the whole country’s turning into a minimum-security prison.  The law? Ha ha ha ha….

(These experiences for me include jails, labor camps, chain-gangs and prisons in more than a dozen states and more than eight nations for a total of 25+ years. Over a third of my 70 years to dateIf you’re an unlucky criminal or involved in serious revolutionary politics, this is what you can expect.)

All in all, the feds ain’t that bad…once you’ve been in a while and know how to game the system. The secret is: Prisons are the supreme bureaucracy and staff are conservative and lazy. Don’t confuse things for them and cause paper-work.  Always give them a simple choice…like children.

Most prisons are medium-security, walled (and/or razor-wire) warehouses and surplus worker centers.

In fact, there are now (given the significant entrée of private enterprise into criminal justice) an estimated 600,000 of the 2.4+ million prisoners in the US now performing free-world jobs.  Most are municipal-type worker-union replacements, or private companies that fire their free-world labor and take advantage of new laws allowing private companies to relocate inside prisons.

The types of jobs that exist in prisons includes orderlies for the housing units, kitchen, laundry workers and landscaping. A second tier are those who work for facilities, such as a carpentry shop, welding, electrical, plumbing, etc.

A third tier are orderlies, clerks and others, such as teachers, who would work in education, recreation, the chapel, medical and other offices. All work in prisons are accomplished by prisoners.  Even where private supervisors are hired, they’re forbidden by contract to perform any labor.

A fourth category are where prisons also have a factory on-site which manufactures, assembles, or provides a service of one sort or another to either a private sector company or to gov’t agencies.

Factories with Fences (click image to enlarge)…

In the federal system, UNICOR (Federal Prison Industries, Inc.) is the major national prison workforce providing such employment.

And finally, there are those prisoners who may work outside the fence, in a camp and even in the community-at-large (minimum-security, of course).

Most prisoners on the compound earn .12-to-40¢ an hour. For those in UNICOR (usually a minority of prisoners with waiting lines for employment up to 2 and 3 years), prisoners earn from 23¢-to-$1.15 an hour, plus overtime (double-pay).

Most compound workers make, say, $17 a month. A grade-1 worker in UNICOR could earn $175+/mo.  I recall working for UNICOR during one 2-year period (out of my 14yrs with UNICOR) where we were running double-shifts 7 days per week. I was earning almost $700 a month (tax free).  That’s almost the same as my current Social Security income.

Author at Maxwell AFB (prison camp)…

Another example of employment I experienced was when I was a dog-handler at the prison camp at Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, AL. We had one prisoner who could only get around with a walker. He was this grossly disabled old white guy–maybe 60-yrs-old going on 120.

Of course, this also gave employment to another prisoner who was assigned to help him. And lest you figure that might be a cushy job, the old guy couldn’t clean or even wipe himself.

They assigned “Slug”—he never spoke–to be an aid to my group, the dog-handlers. For his job (a private-sector contract; SEGDI) he got $90/mo. His black aide got 12¢ an hour.

I guess that must sound real hilarious at the local Buckin’ Buckboard bar on the way home for prison staff.  Like I said: They’re like children…the real nasty bully-types (they grow up to become conservative politicians, cops, prison guards and other sociopaths).

The first time I saw Slug “working” he was coming down the walk from his housing unit. We were meeting in front with our Labs. As I watched I asked, “What the f*** is this guy up to?”

The supervised replied, “Oh, he’s been assigned to work with us.” Work?

By the time he got to us, we were finished with the meeting. He slowly turned around and walked back. Getting back and forth to our meetings comprised the extent of his “work.” Prison humor…

When I left prison in late 2009 to commence a five-year home arrest and a probation period (I still have two yrs to go), the prisons were catching up with computer technology…in their own twisted-controlling manner.

Nothing exists in prison that does not have a privilege/punitive duality. In fact, you don’t even have to worry about dying in prison. Your death won’t normally be declared until you reach an outside hospital…no matter how stiff and stinking you are.  Kind of helps with staff/prison stats, eh?

Prisoners do not have access to the Internet. Cell phones, etc., have become a significant contraband item due to their small size (and, along with tobacco, a nice side-income for guards).  But the surveillance techs are working on that, and possession for prisoners is a serious infraction.)

Prisons have installed computer rooms in their leisure or law libraries. These computers have only closed-line access to a central service.

Prisoners can e-mail only pre-submitted and approved names and addresses for communication (it routes thru Washington, DC, and takes about an hour each way). No photos or any other enclosures are possible.

Everything, including the phones, are monitored and recorded. The BOP is today a direct agency of Homeland Security along with your local cop-shop.

Prisoners must purchase and pay for credits (by the minute) into their commissary, phone and e-mail accounts. Your personal snail-mail does not escape this process. All mail must contain a computer-generated address label from your approved list of contacts.

Clearly, prisoners who don’t have good jobs, some kind of hustle, or an outside income are screwed.

Wanta know what your future looks like? Prison are increasingly a precise template for the future conservative-state environment. Fool yourself to believe otherwise.

I would guess that virtually every single member of prison staff in the entire American gulag would state their support for a “free, democratic ideal of a capitalist America” (an oxymoron in itself).

Yet, they create and support a system of controls that perfectly duplicates a twisted form of class society and a retributive dictatorship devoid of empathy and humanity.  I suspect that even the so-called 1% are creating the conditions of their own gilded gulag.

So when they achieve societal power (probably sooner-than-you-think), what are we to believe they are truly working toward?

Dr. Publico

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