Déjà vu All Over Again (Didn’t we Try This in Georgia? Edition)

Via Politico:  Ala.: Inmates can replace Hispanic farmhands.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Yes they did try this in Georgia, and the farmers found the inmates to be not very good workers.

  2. @Doug Mataconis: Exactly.

  3. @Doug Mataconis:

    If they had been good workers, they’d probably not have resorted to petty crime and thus would not be in jail to begin with.

  4. Gustopher says:

    Can we jail the Hispanic workers, and then put them back to work for lower wages?

  5. @Stormy Dragon:

    Fair point. But I guess some in Georgia that they could apply the logic that uses some inmates to do things like pick up trash on the side of the highway — something I see done in New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia in my travels up and down I-95 — and apply that to farming. Obviously, they didn’t think it through.

  6. mattb says:

    Side note to all of this… NPR’s All Things Considered Saturday had an exceptional feature on the current situation in Alabama. The transcript… especially the interviews with farmers points out the problems with trying to find replacement labor this late in the game (that not only is this hard work, but there are skills involved in doing it and that most people are not in good enough shape to jump in and do it successfully — this is not unlike jumping right from the couch to running a marathon):
    http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=141183030

    Even if one supported the legislation, I have to wonder who thought the timing of this — rolling out halfway through the harvesting season — was a good idea?

  7. @mattb:

    I’m not sure about Alabama, but in Georgia the legislature, dominated as it is by members from metro districts, didn’t really consult farming interests before passing their legislation.

  8. WR says:

    Some gullible fools assumed that if the states threw out the illegal aliens, the market would demand that wages for farmwork would rise high enough to make it appealing. Instead the Southern states have decided to go in for what is essentially slave labor. And what a brilliant system it is — the state arrests and imprisons people, then leases them out to private businesses at some rate they choose, then pay the prisoners the usual 25 cents an hour or whatever for their labor.

    It’s slavery with a happy face. Today’s Republican party.

  9. @Doug Mataconis:

    But I guess some in Georgia that they could apply the logic that uses some inmates to do things like pick up trash on the side of the highway

    There’s no real consequence if the prisoners do a bad job at picking up litter, so it doesn’t really matter if they’re any good at it.

  10. sam says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Yes they did try this in Georgia, and the farmers found the inmates to be not very good workers.

    Technically, they were probationers (not that it makes all that much difference).

  11. mattb says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    This is pretty much the case in much of the country (and my guess too).

  12. Loviatar says:

    @WR:

    Thank you WR for saying this

    Instead the Southern states have decided to go in for what is essentially slave labor.

    Everyone else seems to want to focus on the poor quality of the prison workers and gloss over the fact that is is just another form of slave labor..

    When you add this in with all the recent voting rights changes they’ve made, I guess the no-confederate Republican party is really trying to take us back to Reconstruction.

  13. @WRLoviatar

    Would you also consider the state’s that use prisoners for litter patrol to be slavery?

    My understanding is that there is some pay received for this work that is placed in the inmate’s prison/jail account so they’re technically not working for free

  14. WR says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I have mixed feelings about the litter patrol, but it doesn’t seem to be terribly hard work (from what I’ve seen while driving by). The difference is that in this case prisoners — who are generally paid something like 25 cents an hour — are being used to replace workers who were making at least eight dollars, and whose replacements clearly would cost a lot more than that.

    There is also the difference that roadside clean-up directly improves the community, and can be seen as a kind of reparations to the community their crimes harmed. This is renting essentially unpaid labor to private businesses, with the state keeping the profits.

    Oh, it’s my understanding the slave owners gave their slaves a shack to live in and sometimes even their food, so technically they weren’t working for free, either. They were still slaves.

  15. @WR: I will say this about liter patrol: that can at least be construed as “community service” in ways that picking veggies can’t.

  16. Loviatar says:

    Would you also consider the state’s that use prisoners for litter patrol to be slavery?

    In Doug’s mind using prison labor to benefit the community is equivalent to using prison labor to benefit a private enterprise. And as long as the person being used for slave labor is paid some minimal fee its “technically not working for free” so its not really slave labor.
    .

    WOW
    .

    There is something truly and pathologically wrong with the modern conservative party.

  17. WR says:

    @Loviatar: I’m not sure Doug was coming out in favor of this so much as asking a question, and I’m certainly willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Because having the state incarcerate citizens and then lend them out as low cost prison labor is a hallmark of Fascist governments–for fear of invoking Mr. Godwin, I will not mention “arbeit mach frei” — and Doug, for all that his politics frequently infuriates me, is a libertarian, not a Fascist.

  18. Davebo says:

    Doug, for all that his politics frequently infuriates me, is a libertarian, not a Fascist.

    Don’t kid yourself. Doug is a Republican who is smart enough (and perhaps embarrassed enough) to deny it. As are most so called “Libertarians”.

    What party is Ron Paul a member of?

  19. Scott O. says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    I once had a coworker who was in jail for 2 weeks. He said going on the litter patrol was a voluntary thing and that he preferred it over spending the day in the jail. I didn’t ask if he got paid.