March 1, 2007

WELL, THAT'LL RELIEVE THE WAGE PRESSURE...:

Colorado to use inmates to fill migrant shortage: Tough laws passed last year against illegal immigration have created a need for farmworkers (Nicholas Riccardi, March 1, 2007, LA Times)

Ever since passing what its Legislature promoted as the nation's toughest laws against illegal immigration last summer, Colorado has struggled with a labor shortage as migrants fled the state. This week, officials announced a novel solution: Use convicts as farmworkers.

The Department of Corrections hopes to launch a pilot program this month -- thought to be the first of its kind -- that would contract with more than a dozen farms to provide inmates who will pick melons, onions and peppers.

Crops were left to spoil in the fields after the passage of legislation that required state identification to get government services and allowed police to check suspects' immigration status.

"The reason this [program] started is to make sure the agricultural industry wouldn't go out of business," state Rep. Dorothy Butcher said. Her district includes Pueblo, near the farmland where the inmates will work.

Prisoners who are a low security risk may choose to work in the fields, earning 60 cents a day. They also are eligible for small bonuses.


Because, after all, barring immigrants is all about ending peonage, right?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 1, 2007 3:43 PM
Comments

Who wants people we don't trust in public handling our food?

Posted by: Matt Cohen at March 1, 2007 4:48 PM

Ho-hum. Time to go back and re-read the text of the Thirteenth Amendment. Involuntary servitude is permissible as punishment for crime. We avoid using convict labor to protect American workers from unfair competition. If there is a labor shortage, this objection is obviated.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 1, 2007 5:09 PM
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