Lawyer claims Hawaii prisoners are harassed at Arizona prison

From: Hawaii News Now, Nov 24th 2012
By: Keoki Kerr

SUGUARO, Arizona (HawaiiNewsNow) —

A Honolulu lawyer who represents about 70 Hawaii inmates at an Arizona prison said officials there routinely harass and retaliate against some of those inmates for bringing complaints about their treatment behind bars.

Hawaii inmates at Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona often use the phone to talk to their Hawaii-based attorneys, such as Myles Breiner.  
But he said officials at the prison routinely listen to the prisoners’ side of the conversations and take notes on their contents, a violation of attorney-client privilege.

“Inmates, as a result, are intimidated.  They are reluctant to discuss anything over the phone,” Breiner said. “Our clients are told, ‘Why do you need that lawyer?  You don’t need that lawyer. We can help you without that attorney.'”

Breiner said Saguaro inmates who file complaints about abuse by guards, improper medical attention and other problems with staff are retaliated against with unfair misconduct violations, which can make them ineligible to get parole.

“Inmates who are pursuing litigation have a disproportionate number of misconducts filed against them by the facility,” Breiner said.

A spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that owns the prison where Hawaii houses more than 1,600 of its inmates, released a statement responding to some of Breiner’s allegations.
 “CCA takes the safety and dignity of the inmates entrusted to our care very seriously,” said Steven Owen, senior director of public affairs for the prison company. “We have a zero-tolerance policy for any form of retaliation and take any such allegations very seriously.”

Owen said the Saguaro Correctional Center has a “robust grievance process” that inmates can use to voice concerns or complaints, and he said the prison encourages them to do so.

But Breiner has other complaints.

“The warden has a habit of referring to me as ‘That Jew lawyer. That Jew lawyer Myles Breiner.” They hope to have me put in segregation,” Briener said.

In a letter he wrote to Hawaii’s Attorney General David Louie, Breiner said his clients tell him the prison warden and his assistant warden say they want to lock Breiner up if he visits the facility.

Read the rest and view the film here: http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/20173244/lawyer-claims-hawaii-prisoners-are-harassed-at-arizona-prison

Thousands wage peaceful protest at Tent City

From: General Assembly Coverage blog of the Unitarian Universalists:
June 24th 2012

Several thousand gathered outside the Tent City jail complex Saturday night to protest inhumane conditions maintained by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The peace vigil was organized by the UUA, and drew nearly 2,000 people, many of whom arrived in busses from the Phoenix Convention Center, site of the UUA Justice General Assembly. People lined the streets in yellow Standing on the Side of Love shirts, waving battery-operated candles. A small nearby counter-protest organized by Arpaio supporters drew less than 100 people.

The crowd sang and chanted, “Shut it down. Shut it down.” “We just got word they can hear us in Tent City,” emcee Dulce Juarez told the crowd.

Complaints of cruel and unusual punishment have been lodged against the outdoor complex since Tent City opened in 1993. In the desert heat, temperatures in the tents have reportedly reached into the 130°s. Tent City has been condemned by numerous human rights organizations, and given rise to lawsuits charging civil rights violation. The U.S. Department of Justice is suing Arpaio and Maricopa County for civil rights violations, including what it said is the long-standing racial profiling of Latinos.

“We have to take it down,” UUA President Peter Morales told the crowd. “I am so sad this can exist in my country today.” He was joined by religious leaders from other denominations, as well.

Read the rest here: http://blogs.uuworld.org/ga/2012/06/24/thousands-wage-peaceful-protest-at-tent-city/

Phoenix, AZ: End Migrant Detention Teach-In

Saturday, October 1 · 9:30am – 1:00pm
Location
714 E VAN BUREN ST, SUITE 119
Phoenix, AZ
USA

The expansion of the corporate criminal justice system is impacting our communities daily. Not only are corporate interests driving the private prison industries,but it is also the driving factor for most contemporary immigration programs and policies. Most alarmingly is the rampant expansion of detention center throughout the US.

Every single day our family members, friends and countless people are detained in immigrant detention centers throughout the U.S. And Arizona is home to some of the most notorious detention facilities.

As a community comprised of every day people, migrant justice groups and civil rights organizations we are calling for the end to this wrongful and dehumanizing treatment. We re beginning to organize and learn more about our rights and map out a plan of action.

Come join us on October 1st at 9:30 am to learn more and see how you too can work to end this injustice.
—————————————————-
La expansión de la corporación que es el sistema criminal nos impacta al diario. Los interese corporativos no solo empujan el desarrollo de prisiones privadas, pero al igual empujan el desarrollo a los programas y leyes migratorias. Lo mas alarmante es la expansión de centros de detención por todo el país.

Cada día nuestras familias, amigos y el publico en general es detenido en estos centros por todo el país. Arizona es el hogar de varios centros, y unos de los mas crueles.

Siendo una comunidad de gente diversa, grupos por la justicia migratoria y organizaciones pro los derechos civiles están pidiendo un FIN a este tratamiento antihumano. Estamos conociendo nuestros derechos y desarrollando un plan de acción.

Acompáñanos este 1ero de Octubre a las 9:30am para aprender y ver como juntos terminaremos con estas injusticias.

Wal-Mart, Martori Farms and Women in Prison Labor: "I Ain’t Gonna Work On Martori’s Farm No More"

Note: This is the contact email for Wal-Mart’s “ethics” office. Please take a  minute and write them about the horrific labor conditions for the women at Perryville. Wal-Mart’s Global Ethics Office can be emailed at ethics@wal-mart.com.

“I Ain’t Gonna Work On Martori’s Farm No More”
Posted: 06/29/11
By Al Norman, Founder, Sprawl-Busters
in: Huffington Post

For the past 20 years, Wal-Mart has fed its stores with agricultural produce from a company called Martori Farms. According to Hoover’s profile of the company, Martori is “a fruit and vegetable grower, packer, shipper, and wholesaler and is the largest commercial agricultural company in Arizona.

The agra business was “hand-picked” by Wal-Mart, and in 2007, the giant retailer showcased Martori Farms as part of its “Salute To America’s Farmers” program. The Martori farm operations took seed in the 1930s Arizona soil, later specializing in melons and broccoli. The company today has 3 major locations in Arizona, and one site in California. One of its holdings contains more than 15,000 arcres of farmland.

Wal-Mart has described its relationship with Martori Farms as an example of “fruitful collaboration.” The retailer’s first 35 superstores were stocked with organic cantaloupes from Martori Farms. “Our relationship with Martori Farms is an excellent example of the kind of collaboration we strive for with our suppliers,” a Wal-Mart spokesman said four years ago. “Wal-Mart buys more United States agricultural products than any other retailer in the world and we’re proud to salute American farmers like Martori Farms.”

But new allegations about the use of prison labor at the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Martori Farms could blight the fruitful relationship between the retailer and the farmer.

For almost 20 years, Wal-Mart has had a clear policy forbidding the use of prison labor by its vendors. “Since 1992 Wal-Mart has required its supplier-partners to comply with a stringent code of conduct,” Wal-Mart said in a 1997 press statement. “This code requires factories producing merchandise for Wal-Mart to be automatically denied manufacturing certification if inspections reveal…evidence of forced or prison labor.”

The Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) has supplied prisoner labor for private agricultural businesses for almost 20 years. For at least the last four years, the state of Arizona has fined employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers. Farmers responded by calling up the ADC for workers. “We are contacted almost daily by different companies needing labor,” the manager of the business development unit of Arizona Correctional Industries (ACI) told the Christian Science Monitor in 2007. “Maybe it was labor that was undocumented before, and they don’t want to take the risk anymore because of possible consequences, so they are looking to inmate labor as a possible alternative.

One of those businesses that turned to prison labor was Wal-Mart’s vendor, Martori Farms. According to a disturbing story published June 24th by Truth-Out.org,(http://www.truth-out.org/abusive-conditions-martori-farms/1308844017) Martori Farms “pays its imprisoned laborers two dollars per hour, not including the travel time to and from the farm.” Women from the Arizona state prison complex at Perryville Unit are assigned to work at Martori Farms.” Arizona law requires that all able bodied inmates work.

One of the women prisoners at Martori Farms told Truth-Out: “We work eight hours regardless of conditions …. We work in the fields hoeing weeds and thinning plants … Currently we are forced to work in the blazing sun for eight hours. We run out of water several times a day. We ran out of sunscreen several times a week. They don’t check medical backgrounds or ages before they pull women for these jobs. Many of us cannot do it! If we stop working and sit on the bus or even just take an unauthorized break we get a MAJOR ticket which takes away our ‘good time’!!! We are told we get ‘two’ 15 minute breaks and a half hour lunch like a normal job but it’s more like 10 minutes and 20 minutes. They constantly yell at us we are too slow and to speed up because we are costing $150 an acre in labor and that’s not acceptable… In addition, the prison has sent women to work on the farms regardless of their medical conditions.”

Wal-Mart’s focus on labor conditions has basically been in Third World producer nations, not on domestic shores. In 1997, Wal-Mart wrote: “The issue of global sourcing and factory conditions is very important to Wal-Mart and to our suppliers. Since 1992, we have spent enormous amounts of time and money to assure compliance with our standards and there has been much improvement.”

Yet here in America, prisoners are working under intolerable conditions picking produce for Wal-Mart superstores. In its Standards for Suppliers, Wal-Mart acknowledges that “the conduct of Wal-Mart’s suppliers can be attributed to Wal-Mart and its reputation.” If for no other reason than to protect its reputation, Wal-Mart should take immediate action against Martori Farms. Such actions should include:

1. an unannounced inspection of working conditions at Martori Farms by an independent auditor

2. enforcement of the Wal-Mart’s own Conditions for Employment, including fair compensation of wages and benefits which are in compliance with the local and national laws, reasonable employee work hours in compliance with local standards, with employees not working in excess of the statutory requirements without proper compensation as required by applicable law.

As long as Wal-Mart allows Martori Farms to exploit its prison workers, Wal-Mart is complicit in the scheme. This arrangement violates the company’s ethical sourcing standards. Such working conditions are not right in Sri Lanka, not right in Bangladesh, and they are not right in Scottsdale Arizona either.

The next time you squeeze a melon at Wal-Mart, think about the prison farmworkers who got squeezed to produce it.

Wal-Mart’s Global Ethics Office can be emailed at ethics@wal-mart.com.

Al Norman is the founder of Sprawl-Busters, and is the author of organizer’s classic big box story, Slam-DunkingWal-Mart.

Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/al-norman/i-aint-gonna-work-on-mart_b_886596.html

Wal-Mart, Martori Farms and Women in Prison Labor: "I Ain’t Gonna Work On Martori’s Farm No More"

Note: This is the contact email for Wal-Mart’s “ethics” office. Please take a  minute and write them about the horrific labor conditions for the women at Perryville. Wal-Mart’s Global Ethics Office can be emailed at ethics@wal-mart.com.

“I Ain’t Gonna Work On Martori’s Farm No More”
Posted: 06/29/11
By Al Norman, Founder, Sprawl-Busters
in: Huffington Post

For the past 20 years, Wal-Mart has fed its stores with agricultural produce from a company called Martori Farms. According to Hoover’s profile of the company, Martori is “a fruit and vegetable grower, packer, shipper, and wholesaler and is the largest commercial agricultural company in Arizona.

The agra business was “hand-picked” by Wal-Mart, and in 2007, the giant retailer showcased Martori Farms as part of its “Salute To America’s Farmers” program. The Martori farm operations took seed in the 1930s Arizona soil, later specializing in melons and broccoli. The company today has 3 major locations in Arizona, and one site in California. One of its holdings contains more than 15,000 arcres of farmland.

Wal-Mart has described its relationship with Martori Farms as an example of “fruitful collaboration.” The retailer’s first 35 superstores were stocked with organic cantaloupes from Martori Farms. “Our relationship with Martori Farms is an excellent example of the kind of collaboration we strive for with our suppliers,” a Wal-Mart spokesman said four years ago. “Wal-Mart buys more United States agricultural products than any other retailer in the world and we’re proud to salute American farmers like Martori Farms.”

But new allegations about the use of prison labor at the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Martori Farms could blight the fruitful relationship between the retailer and the farmer.

For almost 20 years, Wal-Mart has had a clear policy forbidding the use of prison labor by its vendors. “Since 1992 Wal-Mart has required its supplier-partners to comply with a stringent code of conduct,” Wal-Mart said in a 1997 press statement. “This code requires factories producing merchandise for Wal-Mart to be automatically denied manufacturing certification if inspections reveal…evidence of forced or prison labor.”

The Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) has supplied prisoner labor for private agricultural businesses for almost 20 years. For at least the last four years, the state of Arizona has fined employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers. Farmers responded by calling up the ADC for workers. “We are contacted almost daily by different companies needing labor,” the manager of the business development unit of Arizona Correctional Industries (ACI) told the Christian Science Monitor in 2007. “Maybe it was labor that was undocumented before, and they don’t want to take the risk anymore because of possible consequences, so they are looking to inmate labor as a possible alternative.

One of those businesses that turned to prison labor was Wal-Mart’s vendor, Martori Farms. According to a disturbing story published June 24th by Truth-Out.org,(http://www.truth-out.org/abusive-conditions-martori-farms/1308844017) Martori Farms “pays its imprisoned laborers two dollars per hour, not including the travel time to and from the farm.” Women from the Arizona state prison complex at Perryville Unit are assigned to work at Martori Farms.” Arizona law requires that all able bodied inmates work.

One of the women prisoners at Martori Farms told Truth-Out: “We work eight hours regardless of conditions …. We work in the fields hoeing weeds and thinning plants … Currently we are forced to work in the blazing sun for eight hours. We run out of water several times a day. We ran out of sunscreen several times a week. They don’t check medical backgrounds or ages before they pull women for these jobs. Many of us cannot do it! If we stop working and sit on the bus or even just take an unauthorized break we get a MAJOR ticket which takes away our ‘good time’!!! We are told we get ‘two’ 15 minute breaks and a half hour lunch like a normal job but it’s more like 10 minutes and 20 minutes. They constantly yell at us we are too slow and to speed up because we are costing $150 an acre in labor and that’s not acceptable… In addition, the prison has sent women to work on the farms regardless of their medical conditions.”

Wal-Mart’s focus on labor conditions has basically been in Third World producer nations, not on domestic shores. In 1997, Wal-Mart wrote: “The issue of global sourcing and factory conditions is very important to Wal-Mart and to our suppliers. Since 1992, we have spent enormous amounts of time and money to assure compliance with our standards and there has been much improvement.”

Yet here in America, prisoners are working under intolerable conditions picking produce for Wal-Mart superstores. In its Standards for Suppliers, Wal-Mart acknowledges that “the conduct of Wal-Mart’s suppliers can be attributed to Wal-Mart and its reputation.” If for no other reason than to protect its reputation, Wal-Mart should take immediate action against Martori Farms. Such actions should include:

1. an unannounced inspection of working conditions at Martori Farms by an independent auditor

2. enforcement of the Wal-Mart’s own Conditions for Employment, including fair compensation of wages and benefits which are in compliance with the local and national laws, reasonable employee work hours in compliance with local standards, with employees not working in excess of the statutory requirements without proper compensation as required by applicable law.

As long as Wal-Mart allows Martori Farms to exploit its prison workers, Wal-Mart is complicit in the scheme. This arrangement violates the company’s ethical sourcing standards. Such working conditions are not right in Sri Lanka, not right in Bangladesh, and they are not right in Scottsdale Arizona either.

The next time you squeeze a melon at Wal-Mart, think about the prison farmworkers who got squeezed to produce it.

Wal-Mart’s Global Ethics Office can be emailed at ethics@wal-mart.com.

Al Norman is the founder of Sprawl-Busters, and is the author of organizer’s classic big box story, Slam-DunkingWal-Mart.

Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/al-norman/i-aint-gonna-work-on-mart_b_886596.html

Martori Farms: Abusive Conditions at a Key Wal-Mart Supplier

by: Victoria Law, Friday 24 June 2011
Truthout | News Analysis

In 1954, an 18-year-old black woman named Eleanor Rush was incarcerated at the state women’s prison. She was placed in solitary confinement for six days.
On the seventh day, Rush was not fed for over 16 hours. After 16 hours, she began yelling that she was hungry and wanted food. In response, the guards bound and gagged her, dislocating her neck in the process.
Half an hour later, Rush was dead.

The next morning, when the other women in the prison gathered in the yard, another woman in the solitary confinement unit yelled the news about Rush’s death from her window. The women in the yard surrounded the staff members supervising their activities and demanded answers about Rush’s death. When they didn’t get them, the women – both the black and the white women – rioted.
The riot lasted three and a half hours, not stopping until Raleigh, North Carolina, police and guards from the men’s Central Prison arrived.
The women’s riot brought outside attention to Rush’s death. As a result:
The State Bureau of Investigation ordered a probe into Rush’s death rather than believing the prison’s explanation that Rush had dislocated her own neck and committed suicide.

Until that point, nothing in the prison rules explicitly prohibited the use of improvised gags. After the riot and probe, the State Prisons director explicitly banned the use of gags and iron claws (metal handcuffs that can squeeze tightly).

The prison administration was required to pay $3,000 to Rush’s mother. At that time, $3,000 was more than half the yearly salary of the prison warden.

The prison warden, who had allowed Rush to be bound and gagged, was replaced by Elizabeth McCubbin, the executive director of the Family and Children’s Service Agency. Her hiring indicated a shift from a punitive model toward a more social service/social work orientation.

The women themselves testified that they had rioted to ensure that Rush’s death was not dismissed and that the circumstances would not be repeated.

Fifty-five years after Rush was killed in solitary confinement, Marcia Powell, a mentally ill 48-year-old woman incarcerated at the Perryville Unit in Arizona, died. The Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) has more than 600 of these outdoor cages where prisoners are placed to confine or restrict their movement or to hold them while awaiting medical appointments, work, education, or treatment programs. On May 20, 2009, the temperature was 107 degrees. Powell was placed in an unshaded cage in the prison yard. Although prison policy states that “water shall be continuously available” to caged prisoners and that they should be in the cage for “no more than two consecutive hours,” guards continually denied her water and kept her in the cage for four hours. Powell collapsed of heat stroke, was sent to West Valley Hospital where ADC Director Charles Ryan took her off life support hours later.

The ensuing media attention over Powell’s death caused the ADC to temporarily suspend using these cages. Once the media attention faded, the ADC lifted the suspension.(1)

Abuses at Perryville have continued. The ADC has sent its prisoners to work for private agricultural businesses for almost 20 years.(2) The farm pays its imprisoned laborers two dollars per hour, not including the travel time to and from the farm. Women on the Perryville Unit are assigned to Martori Farms, an Arizona farm corporation that supplies fresh fruits and vegetables to vendors across the United States (Martori is the exclusive supplier to Wal-Mart’s 2,470 Supercenter and Neighborhood Market stores).(3)

According to one woman who worked on the farm crews:

They wake us up between 2:30 and three AM and KICK US OUT of our housing unit by 3:30AM. We get fed at four AM. Our work supervisors show up between 5AM and 8AM. Then it’s an hour to a one and a half hour drive to the job site. Then we work eight hours regardless of conditions …. We work in the fields hoeing weeds and thinning plants … Currently we are forced to work in the blazing sun for eight hours. We run out of water several times a day. We ran out of sunscreen several times a week. They don’t check medical backgrounds or ages before they pull women for these jobs. Many of us cannot do it! If we stop working and sit on the bus or even just take an unauthorized break we get a MAJOR ticket which takes away our “good time”!!!

We are told we get “two” 15 min breaks and a half hour lunch like a normal job but it’s more like 10 minutes and 20 minutes. They constantly yell at us we are too slow and to speed up because we are costing $150 an acre in labor and that’s not acceptable.
The place is infested with spiders of all types, scorpions, snakes and blood suckers. And bees because they harvest them. On my crew alone, there are four women with bee allergies, but they don’t care!! There are NO epinephrine pens on site to SAVE them if stung.
There’s no anti venom available for snake bites and they want us to use Windex (yes glass cleaner) for scorpion stings!! INSANITY!!! They are denying us medical care here.(4)

Although Martori Farms contracts with the local fire departments to provide medical attention for injuries on the farm, farm supervisors do not always allow women to stop work when they need medical care. When “N” complained of chest pains, the farm representative refused to allow her to stop working. The next day, an hour after returning to work, she began experiencing chest pains. The farm representative told her, “Come on, the big bosses are here. You’ll be in trouble if you stop. It’s not break time. Work, work, work.” “N” complied, working while in pain, until the break. She resumed working for another half hour before she experienced even more severe pains:

“I have a steady deep dull pain with sharp stabbing pains periodically … Then all of a sudden, I can’t even lift the hoe in the air. My arms are no longer strong enough. By now, the chest pains are so bad it’s knocking the wind out of me. I’m straight seeing stars. I tell our substitute boss officer Sanders I can’t do it no more. I’m having really bad chest pains. I can’t even lift the hoe anymore.” The man accused her of faking these pains, but allowed her to stop working. While the woman was receiving medical attention, another farm representative stated, “Oh, so now they’re gonna start faking fucking heart attacks to not work. Great.”(5)

In addition, the prison has sent women to work on the farms regardless of their medical conditions. “N” was sent to West Valley Hospital where an emergency room doctor ordered that she be exempt from the farm work crew and any other physical exertion for three to four days. However, when “N” was returned to the prison, the nurse told her that they could not honor the doctor’s order and ordered her back to work.

Another woman concurs.

“There was one woman that is on oxygen, in a wheelchair, has an IV line and cancer that they sent to the gate to work on the farm … The captain asked if she could stand. She said yes. His reply was if you can stand, you can farm. She told him no and was issued a disciplinary ticket.”(6)

The women have not accepted these abuses quietly. They have launched complaints to prison administrators:

“Women have made their complaints on inmate letters and verbally to the lieutenant, sergeant, captains, deputy warden, counselors, supervisors and the major. Their solution was to give us an extra sack lunch and agree to feed us breakfast Saturday mornings. UGH!! Really … food is not what we were asking for. Though being fed on Saturdays is nice. Yah! They were not feeding us Saturdays because that’s a day Kitchen opens late because they give brunch on weekends. No lunch, so we were getting screwed! But as of this past Saturday they said they would feed us before work! Let’s see how long it lasts.”

Women have also stood up to unfair demands from the bosses at the farm. One woman recounted:

On Wednesday I go to work … it’s the second day in a row we are doing weeds. [I’m] up to my chest trying to weed to save a minimal amount of watermelon plants. Needless to say, the work was excessively hard – to put it mildly. So I must confess the day before I was “on one,” so to speak. My haunted mind was lost in the past and so I was just trucking through the weeds, plowing them down, not even connecting with my physical exertion and pain. So the next day I was completely exhausted and physically broke down!! I was in so much pain because the day before I did like double the work everyone else did. So anyways, the M Farm representative was pushing me so hard trying to get me to produce the same results as the day before … [He] has everyone at minimum teamed up helping each other plow through these weeds. Well everyone but me that is. I repeatedly asked him to give me a partner. I kept telling him that I was in pain. I also went as far as to tell him that I don’t think I can do this anymore, to PLEASE give me a partner also. His response was “No. You’re strong. You can do it by yourself.” I told him not true; I over-exerted myself yesterday because I was going through some things. Now I’m hurt and need help…. He thought my pleas were funny. I hated to degrade myself and plea so I stopped and continued.

After “N” had finished her assigned row, the farm representative demanded that she finish weeding two other rows that had been abandoned. When she again requested a weeding partner, stating that she was in pain, the representative replied, “When you get to the end, I’ll think about it.”

By this time, all the girls are finishing their rows because they’re all teamed up with 2 or three girls per row. Except me. So there are only two whole rows left on the field by now and he already placed six girls per row. That’s twelve women on two rows. And I can’t even get one helper. That’s RIDICULOUS … I tell him “Mariano all joking aside, all the others are finishing. Can I please get a helper?” He tells me “Seriously, no joking. When you get to the end, I’ll think about it.” At that point I’m pretty upset and broke down. I looked at him and said “Is that right?” I paused staring at him waiting for him to stop his male chauvinist domination games or whatever he’s playing. When he didn’t say anything, but just stared. I told him, “Fine Mariano I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. I’m hurt and struggling through this. After what happened to me before I would think you would provide me help when I need it. Since you won’t look out for my health and well-being, I will. Someone has to. I’m done for today. I’m going to sit on the bus.”

The supervisor demanded that she return to work, threatening to call the prison to have disciplinary tickets written up. She refused.

At this point I’m so angry that this jerk would make me lose everything because I’m not submissive and I don’t obey him like the women back in Mexico do that I admit I blew up and acted unprofessional. I told him “Mariano, Fuck you and your tickets. Go write them if you want. In fact I’ll write them for you to make sure you get the facts straight.”…

At this point the two women who were on the bus got all riled up and were yelling, “That’s not fair. She’s your best worker and you’re going to punish her with tickets!!!” “She’s hurt I heard her asking for help all day!” “We’ve been sitting on the bus for over an hour and we’re not getting tickets, why is she the only one getting a ticket?”(7)

Not only did “N” stand up for herself, but the other women defended her actions at the risk of being ticketed as well. Their combined efforts ensured that “N” was not issued a ticket in retaliation for standing up for herself.

Women have also alerted outside advocates and activists about these inhumane conditions, again at great risk to themselves. If not for their courage in speaking out, the outside world would remain unaware of the exploitation and abuse on the farm.

While the women both endure and challenge these abuses, those outside prison gates remain largely unaware of their struggles. Those involved in social justice organizing need to recognize that prisons and prison injustices are exacerbations of the same social issues in the outside world and recognize that these struggles intersect. Safe from the retaliation of prison authorities, outside organizers and activists can and should raise their voices and take action to help the women inside challenge and ultimately stop these abuses.

Footnotes:
1. As of April 15, 2010, these cages (or “temporary holding enclosures”) remain in use. Arizona Department of Corrections, Department Order Manual, Department Order 704: Inmate Regulations.
2. Nicole Hill, “With Fewer Migrant Workers, Farmers Turn to Prison Labor,” Christian Science Monitor, August 22, 2007. Reprinted here.
3. Press release, “16-Year Relationship Between Wal-Mart and Arizona Business Grows, Thrives,” September 7, 2007. The 2470 figure is as of August 1, 2007.
4. Letter from “N,” dated April 24, 2011.
5. Letter from “N,” dated April 24, 2011
6. Letter from “H,” dated May 22, 2011.
7. Letter from “N,” dated May 7, 2011.

From: http://www.truth-out.org/abusive-conditions-martori-farms/1308844017

Press Release: Detained Migrants Call for Support to Prevent Their Deportation into Hands of Cartels

By No More Deaths:
Tuesday, 14 June 2011 08:07
Detained Migrants Call for Support to Prevent Their Deportation to Mexico into Hands of Cartels to Be Kidnapped and Murdered

Human Rights Group Calls on Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, to Stop all Deportations to Dangerous Locations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hannah Hafter (651) 338-8058. Email: media@nomoredeaths.org

Tucson, Arizona—

“PLEASE SAVE US. We, as in my fellow inmates, find ourselves in the Torrance County Detention Facility and we are scared for our lives.”

This was the first line of one of the four letters, received by No More Deaths this week, signed by a total of 21 people sentenced to detention in New Mexico for crossing the U.S./Mexico border through the Arizona desert, undocumented. All the letters express extreme fear of being kidnapped or murdered if they are deported through the border states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas (on the other side of the border from New Mexico and Texas).

In these states, organized crime now has more power than the local government and migrants are regularly targeted upon arrival for extortion, violence, and forced conscription under threat of death. Over 34,500 people have been killed over the last four years in drug cartel and gang related violence, with over half the killings in 2010 taking place in Chihuahua, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas.

No More Deaths is launching a campaign in response to these calls for support, and demands an end to all deportations through these eastern border states because of the imminent safety risks to deportees. Both ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and Border Patrol are currently sending deportees through these ports. At the same time, the border ports of Agua Prieta and Naco, Sonora, Mexico have not been used for repatriation in over 8 months, even though they are known to be significantly safer for deportees. Human Rights Advocates throughout the country began calling and sending faxes to the offices of Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, and John Morton, Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to call for an immediate end to deportations through the Mexican border states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas.

The letter’s author continues with a story: “[One of the inmates here was last deported through Texas and he was] kidnapped and held hostage along with other deportees and was always at gunpoint. Some didn’t have family or had no money to pay the ransom so this group killed them and the ones that paid escaped death but not a beating… On the other side of the border of Texas is where this takes place every day.”

With the United States deporting upwards of 1,000 people each day to Mexico, a unique and horrifying situation of exploitation has emerged: cartels feed off the constant flow of migrants, using corrupt police and government agencies intended to assist migrants to funnel recent deportees directly into their hands. According to another letter, “When one crosses the border the municipal police is just waiting and watching for deportees.

They pull you over with the excuse that they are going to help you… this is a lie and part of the scam. These police work for the [cartels]. They take you to an abandoned alley or house [where] at gunpoint your eyes are bandaged and your feet and hands are tied. And so begins the nightmare.”
Migrants given prison sentences for crossing the border are also routinely separated from their belongings, including identification, all their money, and lists of phone numbers of family members. The lack of resources, proof of identity, and ability to contact support highly intensifies existing dangers.

According to Hannah Hafter, No More Deaths volunteer from Tucson AZ, age 28, “No border town is completely safe, and all deportations are separating families and ripping apart communities. The U.S. government still has a responsibility to protect people from imminent violence. They are not only endangering lives—they are also financing the drug trade by handing them kidnapping victims. Janet Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security should intervene to ensure the safety of the 21 detainees who wrote us from the Torrance County Detention Facility, put an immediate end to all deportations through the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas, and ensure that all deportees receive their belongings including identification and money.”

The inmates writing from Torrance County Detention Facility have release dates between June 15th & June 17th. They request to be sent through the border port in the state of Sonora as an alternative. The last letter, signed by all 21 detainees, reads, “We are not delinquents. We are working people, we have families waiting for us in Mexico, and we fear for our lives. For your attention and understanding, we thank you, and God bless you and us.”

Contact DHS Officials and ask them:

“WHERE WILL YOU BE DEPORTING THE 21 DETAINEES FROM UNIT 8C AT THE TORRANCE COUNTY DETENTION FACILITY?”

DHS Press Room: 202-272-1200
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano: 202-282-8495
ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton: 202-732-3000

For those interested in getting involved visit http://www.nomoredeaths.org. To learn more about the urgent action visit http://www.nomoredeaths.org/Updates-and-Announcements/stoptexasdeportations.html.

Female prisoners and forced prison labor in Arizona (2011)

From: Prison Abolitionist weblog:

Margaret T. Hance Park

May Day 2011



What immediately follows is an excerpt from one of two letters I received this past week regarding prison labor at Martori Farms, which I read at the May Day Rally today. The second letter is pasted at the bottom.


Note that refusal to accept these jobs is grounds for transfer to a higher security yard or detention unit- is that what we want to be spending our corrections money on, instead of programs and health care for these women?

May Day was awesome, by the way. More on that soon…


Remember Women Prisoners

Pinatafest, Margaret T. Hance Park

May Day 2011


—————–

4/24/11

Dear Peggy,

Happy Easter 🙂!!! I hope all was great for you today!!!

Well friend I regret to tell you this letter will not be a social call. I’m calling on you to advocate for me and do what you do. I’m in a TERRIBLE situation here. And I need help from the outside. We are totally being oppressed!!! And ABUSED by the system. The prison is out of control!!!! OK ready?….

It’s a doosey friend. You’re gonna be totally shocked. Perhaps you’ve heard already but we need help! I NEED help before they kill me!!

OK it’s about my job. I work on a work crew for Martori Farms. We work 6 days a week for 8 hrs. It’s a mandatory overtime job. We work in the fields hoeing weeds and thinning plants currently until it’s harvest time then it will be 12 hrs a day. It’s insane. Currently we are forced to work in the blazing sun for 8 hrs. Many times we run out of water several times a day. We ran out of sunscreen several times a week. They don’t check medical backgrounds or ages before they pull women for these jobs. Many of us cannot do it! And if we stop working and sit on the bus or even just take an unauthorized break we get a MAJOR ticket which takes away our “good time”!!!

We are told we get ‘2’ 15 min breaks and one ½ hr lunch like a normal job but it’s more like 10 min and 20 min. They constantly yell at us we are too slowand to speed up because we are costing $150 an acre in labor and that’s not acceptable.

The place is infested with spiders of all types, scorpions, snakes, and blood suckers. And bees because they harvest them. On my crew alone there are 4 women with bee allergies but they don’t care!! There are NO epinephrine pens on site to SAVE them if stung.

There’s no anti venom available for snake bites and they want us to use windex (yes glass cleaner) for scorpion stings!! INSANITY!!! They are denying us medical care here.

If we are “red lined’ meaning we have a DR or Nurse or Psych appt any other job holds you back because medical takes precedence over every thing. But not at this job. If we don’t go to work and choose to stay for medical we get a Major ticket. And if they’rereally short people or too many people are like screw it give me the ticket like last week they take you to “CDU” the hole!!! It is so not fair!!! COIV xxx is going crazy trying to find people to fill this contract it’s rumored to be a $40 Million contract but also heard $4.5 mill either way it’s big money. They are going to any lengths to fulfill this. Not caring about our civil rights, safety or health!!

Women have made their complaints on inmate letters and verbally to Lt., Sgt, Captains, DW, COIII, COIV, and the major. Their solution was to give us an extra sack lunch and agree to feed us breakfast sat mornings. UGH!! Really… food is not what we were asking for. Though being fed on Saturdays is nice. Yah! They were not feeding us Sats because that’s a day Kitchen opens late because they give brunch on weekends. No lunch so we were getting screwed! But as of this past Sat they said they would feed us before work! Let’s see how long it lasts. Because they also said they would allow us to be “Red lined”. But it only lasted 1 day.

They wake us up between 2:30 and 3:00 am and KICK US OUT if our housing unit by 3:30am then we get fed at 4:00am and our work supervisors show up between 5am and 8am. Then it’s an hour to 1 ½ hr drive to the job site. Then we work 8 hrs regardless of conditions. Even the porta potties are usually dirty. Sometimes NO SOAP and never any seat covers and women on my work crew are HIV+ and Hep C positive. Not sanitary at ALL!

They give us 1 long sleeve shirt to wear for 6 days! 2 pairs of pants, 2 socks, 2 short sleeve shirts, and 2 pairs of used panties, bras, and javascript:void(0)socks!!! YUCK!!! We need help Peggy...

—————ASPC-Perryville/San Carlos———-



It’s come to my attention that the women from ASPC-Perryville who are providing the prison labor to Martori Farms are being coerced into taking the jobs by the guards responsible for recruiting them, and are reportedly working at times without water, sunscreen, adequate nutrition and full breaks, and without regard to medical concerns or age. Those who refuse the jobs or don’t work sufficiently hard enough in the fields – or who even just complain – are threatened with being written up (a major ticket which can cost good time), or thrown into the hole.



The women are afraid for their health and safety; some are allergic to the bees they are harvesting, and others have been told to work through serious symptoms such as chest pain, still being dismissed as malingering – reminiscent of what happened to Brenda Todd and Susan Lopez, when they begged for medical care. They’re presently working 8-hr days/6 days a week (not including the 1+ hour trek to and from the farm). Come harvest time, they’ve been told they’ll be working 12-hour days.




Upon receiving this information, I called OSHA – the Department of Labor doesn’t have jurisdiction over prison labor, even when contracted to private farms. The only department in the state, outside of Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) they referred me to was the AZ Department of Administration’s Risk Management people – they’re the only ones who care about prisoner-worker “rights”, it appears, because they want to minimize liability (which has little to do with taking responsibility in practice, it appears).

The Department of Administration referred me back to the ADC, to a guy by the name of Barry Keith. I told them I already contacted the ADC”s general counsel’s office about the issue, and want outside eyes on the prison to assure worker’s rights are being protected. They had no one else to refer me to, though, so I left a message for Mr. Keith. We’ll see who gets back to me with what – I’m not on the best of terms with them these days.

Again, I’m urging people to contact the Chair of the AZ House Health and Human Services Committee, Rep. Cecil Ash, and request hearings on the conditions in the prisons.

He can be reached at:


Arizona House of Representatives

1700 W. Washington St.

Phoenix, AZ 85007

(cash@azleg.gov)

cc me (see margins), the Phoenix New Times (PO Box 2510, Phoenix, AZ 85002 / Phone: 602-271-0040 / Fax: 602-340-8806) and your own legislators on your concerns, please…let me know if I can print what you write.

Finally, here’s some info about prison labor, from a good DAILY KOS story in December 2010. An older Christian Science Monitor article about AZ prison labor as it relates to the issue of immigration comes first…and here’s something from another blog post last June: Slaves of the State: Prison Labor


————————–——————-


With Fewer Migrant Workers, Farmers Turn to Prison Labor





By Nicole Hill, Christian Science Monitor

Posted on August 22, 2007, Printed on April 29, 2011

http://www.alternet.org/story/60497/with_fewer_migrant_workers%2C_farmers_turn_to_prison_labor





Picacho, Ariz. — Near this dusty town in southeastern Arizona, Manuel Reyna pitches watermelons into the back of a trailer hitched to a tractor. His father was a migrant farm worker, but growing up, Mr. Reyna never saw himself following his father’s footsteps. Now, as an inmate at the Picacho Prison Unit here, Reyna works under the blazing desert sun alongside Mexican farmers the way his father did.

“My dad tried to keep me out of trouble,” he says, wearing a bandanna to keep the sweat out of his eyes. “But I always got back into the easy money, because it was faster and a lot more money.” He’s serving a 6-1/2 year sentence for possession and sale of rock cocaine.

As states increasingly crack down on hiring undocumented workers, western farmers are looking at inmates to harvest their fields. Colorado started sending female inmates to harvest onions, corn, and melons this summer. Iowa is considering a similar program. In Arizona, inmates have been working for private agriculture businesses for almost 20 years. But with legislation signed this summer that would fine employers for knowingly hiring undocumented workers, more farmers are turning to the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) for help.

“We are contacted almost daily by different companies needing labor,” says Bruce Farely, manager of the business development unit of Arizona Correctional Industries (ACI). ACI is a state labor program that holds contracts with government and private companies. “Maybe it was labor that was undocumented before, and they don’t want to take the risk anymore because of possible consequences, so they are looking to inmate labor as a possible alternative.”

Reyna and about 20 other low-risk, nonviolent offenders work at LBJ Farm, a family-owned watermelon farm, as part of ADC’s mission to employ every inmate, either behind prison walls or in outside companies. The idea is to help inmates develop job skills and save money for their release. “It helps them really pay their debt back to the folks who have been harmed in society, as well as make adequate preparation for their release back onto the streets.” says ADC director Dora Schriro.

If it weren’t for a steady flow of inmates year-round, says Jack Dixon, owner of LBJ, one of the largest watermelon farms in the western US, he’d have sold out long ago. Even so, last year 400 acres of his watermelons rotted on the ground – a $640,000 loss – because there weren’t enough harvesters. Mr. Dixon had applied for 60 H2-A guest worker visas, but only 14 were approved because of previous visa violations.

“We are in desperate need for hand labor,” says Dixon, who started working on the farm when he was 9, alongside mostly migrant workers. “It’s hard to get migrant workers up here anymore, with all the laws preventing them. It’s not what it used to be,” Dixon says. “It’s dangerous for them with all the coyote wars and smuggling.”

Other farmers wonder if inmates could be their solution. Dixon has received calls from a yellow-squash farmer in Texas inquiring about how to set up an inmate labor contract as well as from another watermelon farmer in Colorado seeking advice on how to manage inmate crews.

For labor-rights activists, federal immigration reform is the only viable solution to worker shortages.

Marc Grossman, spokesman for the United Farm Workers of America, says inmate labor undermines what unionized farmworkers have wanted for years: to be paid based on skill and experience. “It’s rather insulting that the state [Arizona] would look so poorly on farm workers that they would attempt to use inmates,” Grossman says. There is also the food-safety aspect, he says: Experienced workers understand sanitary harvesting.

“Agriculture does not have a reliable workforce, and the answer does not lie with prison labor,” says Paul Simonds of the Western Growers Association, a trade association representing California and Arizona. “This just underscores the need for legislation to be passed to provide a legal, stable workforce.” A prison lockdown would be disastrous, he points out, with perishable crops awaiting harvest. Other crops, like asparagus and broccoli, require skilled workers.

Although the ADC is considering innovative solutions – including satellite prisons – to fulfill companies’ requests for inmate labor, prison officials agree that, in the end, the demand is too high. “To go into a state where agriculture is worth $9.2 billion and expect to meet a workforce need is impossible,” says Katie Decker, spokeswoman for ADC. At any given time only about 3,300 prisoners statewide (out of a prison population of about 37,000) are cleared to work outside.

ACI provides inmates to nine private agricultural companies in Arizona, ranging from a hydroponics greenhouse tomato plant to a green chile cannery. Unlike other sectors where federal regulations require that inmate workers be paid a prevailing wage and receive worker compensation, agricultural companies can hire state inmates on a contract basis. They must be paid a minimum of $2 per hour. Thirty percent of their wages go to room and board in prison. The rest goes to court-ordered restitution for victims, any child support, and a mandatory savings account. Private companies are required to pay for transportation from the prison to the worksite and for prison guards.

For Reyna, his work on farms over the past couple of years has added $9,000 in his savings account and given him a renewed respect for his Mexican father’s lifetime of stoop labor.

At Dixon’s farm, it’s 103 degrees F. The inmate crews, wearing orange jumpsuits, work in a rhythmic line, calling out the number of the watermelons, and alongside the trailer. Just a few yards away, Mexican workers also work in a line. The inmates will quit at 4 p.m., while the immigrant laborers may work 13-hour days. “We go back, they stay out here,” Reyna says. “It really isn’t the same.”

In the farm’s office, watermelons line the counter, and photos of migrant workers hang in dusty frames. When asked why he doesn’t sell the farm, Dixon says, “the inmates, the migrants, these people are part of the family – that’s why I keep this darn place.”

Dixon says he supports the idea of a reformed, guest-worker program that would employ migrant workers during the harvest and return them to Mexico in the winter. But until that happens, he’s willing to fight for the workers he’s shared the land with for most of his life.

“People are crossing the border because they are starving to death,” Dixon says, “I don’t care what their status is. If they are hungry and thirsty, I am going to feed them.”

“I could sell this and quit,” he continues, “But I believe in supporting the American farming industry.”


© 2011 Christian Science Monitor All rights reserved.

View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/60497/


INSOURCING – Identifying businesses involved in prison labor or supporting those who are

byBob Sloan

DAILY KOS



Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 03:23 PM PST

Many readers have asked how a corporation can be identified as participating in the use of inmate labor. Actually there are three “categories” of those involved in prison labor and prison industry operations:


  1. corporations, businesses and companies that use direct inmate labor for manufacturing and service jobs,

  1. corporations, businesses and companies that contract with other companies to purchase products or services made by inmate labor (such as McDonalds), and,

  1. individuals, corporations, organizations and investment companies that support the use of prison labor or enable prison industry operations by contributing financial support to those directly involved in using inmates for labor or invest in or support private prison corporations.

To demonstrate how difficult involvement in prison industries and the use of inmate labor is to identify, we’ll begin with an investment firm involved in many of our 401(k) and retirement accounts.

Fidelity Investments (Fidelity). This “financial investment” corporation is involved in holding the retirement and 401(k) accounts of millions of Americans. Many of the largest companies in our country offer Fidelity Investments as the sole source of retirement investing for their employees.

Fidelity was previously identified as a funder of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in an earlir Insourcing blog. ALEC is deeply invested in supporting Corrections Corporation of American (CCA) and Geo Group (Geo) – that are both corporate members of ALEC. ALEC has willingly accepted responsibility for enactment of laws authorizing and increasing the use of inmates in manufacturing of products as well as the housing of those inmates by private corporations such as CCA and Geo.

Unfortunately if your retirement savings, 401(K) or other investments are held by Fidelity, chances are some of your money is invested by Fidelity in either the use of prison labor or in other operations related to the prison industrial complex (PIC).

I purposely mentioned McDonald’s in the intro because though they are not “directly” using inmate labor in their food service operations, they are dependent upon the use of inmate labor to reduce costs associated with those operations. The way they do this is by contracting to purchase their uniforms and some of the plastic utensils provided to customers from a company using inmate labor to make those uniforms and utensils. The uniforms are made by Oregon Inmates. Wendy’s has also been identified as relying upon prison labor to reduce their cost of operations – and they fund ALEC.

Two other U.S. companies relying upon prison labor for products sold in their stores are K-Mart and J.C. Penny. Both sell Jeans made by inmates in Tennessee prisons. The same prison in Tennessee provides labor for Eddie Bauer’s wooden rocking horses. There are other products we would not associate with prison made products: dentures, partials, eye glasses, processed foods such as beef, chicken and pork patties sold to and served in our schools, grocery stores and hospitals. I don’t know about you but putting dentures made in prison in my mouth just somehow causes me concern…just as buying a box of breaded chicken patties and fixing them for my family does.

What about services such as Insurance? Banking? Utilities – gas, oil, electricity? Prescription drugs? Are all of these services or commodities tied to prison labor and the PIC? Unfortunately, yes. Many insurance companies are tied to ALEC…as are corporations involving utilities provided to you in your city or town. To name jut a few brand names you’ll recognize that are invested in prison labor or PIC through ALEC are:

BANKS: American General Financial Group, American Express Company, Bank of America, Community Financial Services Corporation, Credit Card Coalition, Credit Union National Association, Inc., Fidelity Inestments, Harris Trust & Savings Bank, Household International, LaSalle National Bank, J.P. Morgan & Company, Non-Bank Funds Transmitters Group

ENERGY PRODUCERS/OIL: American Petroleum Institute, Amoco Corporation, ARCO, BP America, Inc., Caltex Petroleum, Chevron Corporation, ExxonMobil Corporation, Mobil Oil Corporation, Phillips Petroleum Company.

ENERGY PRODUCERS/UTILITIES: American Electric Power Association, American Gas Association, Center for Energy and Economic Development, Commonwealth Edison Company, Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc., Edison Electric Institute, Independent Power Producers of New York, Koch Industries, Inc., Mid-American Energy Company, Natural Gas Supply Association, PG&E Corporation/PG&E National Energy Group, U.S. Generating Company.

INSURANCE: Alliance of American Insurers, Allstate Insurance Company, American Council of Life Insurance, American Insurance Association, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Corporation, Coalition for Asbestos Justice, (This organization was formed in October 2000 to explore new judicial approaches to asbestos litigation.” Its members include ACE-USA, Chubb & Son, CNA service mark companies, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., Kemper Insurance Companies, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, and St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company. Counsel to the coalition is Victor E. Schwartz of the law firm of Crowell & Moring in Washington, D.C., a longtime ALEC ally.)

Fortis Health, GEICO, Golden Rule Insurance Company, Guarantee Trust Life Insurance, MEGA Life and Health Insurance Company, National Association of Independent Insurers, Nationwide Insurance/National Financial, State Farm Insurance Companies, Wausau Insurance Companies, Zurich Insurance.

PHARMACEUTICALS: Abbott Laboratories, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Bayer Corporation, Eli Lilly & Company, GlaxoSmithKline, Glaxo Wellcome, Inc., Hoffman-LaRoche, Inc., Merck & Company, Inc., Pfizer, Inc., Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of

America (PhRMA), Pharmacia Corporation, Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, Inc., Schering-Plough Corporation, Smith, Kline & French, WYETH, a division of American Home Products Corporation.

MANUFACTURING:American Plastics Council, Archer Daniels Midland Corporation, AutoZone, Inc. (aftermarket automotive parts), Cargill, Inc., Caterpillar, Inc., Chlorine Chemistry Council, Deere & Company, Fruit of the Loom, Grocery Manufacturers of America, Inland Steel Industries, Inc., International Game Technology, International Paper, Johnson & Johnson, Keystone Automotive Industries, Motorola, Inc., Procter & Gamble, Sara Lee Corporation.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS: AT&T, Ameritech, BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc., GTE Corporation, MCI, National Cable and Telecommunications Association, SBC Communications, Inc., Sprint, UST Public Affairs, Inc., Verizon Communications, Inc.

TRANSPORTATION: Air Transport Association of America, American Trucking Association, The Boeing Company, United Airlines, United Parcel Service (UPS).

OTHER U.S. COMPANIES: Amway Corporation, Cabot Sedgewick, Cendant Corporation, Corrections Corporation of America, Dresser Industries, Federated Department Stores, International Gold Corporation, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Microsoft Corporation, Newmont Mining Corporation, Quaker Oats, Sears, Roebuck & Company, Service Corporation International, Taxpayers Network, Inc., Turner Construction, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

ORGANIZATIONS/ASSOCIATIONS: Adolph Coors Foundation, Ameritech Foundation, Bell & Howell Foundation, Carthage Foundation, Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, ELW Foundation, Grocery Manufacturers of America, Heartland Institute of Chicago, The Heritage Foundation, Iowans for Tax Relief, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee, National Pork Producers Association, National Rifle Association, Olin Foundation, Roe Foundation, Scaiffe Foundation, Shell Oil Company Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, Steel Recycling Institute, Tax Education Support Organization, Texas Educational Foundation, UPS Foundation.

As the foregoing illustrates, many U.S. companies and corporations not only fund ALEC’s activities regarding prison labor and PIC, they have foundations that also contribute handsomely to ALEC. Many are represented upon ALEC”s Private Enterprise Board.

Commodities, services and various products sold to U.S. consumers provide profits to these companies/corporations that are used to further the goals of ALEC. They sell us our vehicles, Chrysler, Ford, GM…sell us the fuel to power those vehicles, insurance to cover our cars and trucks. Some of our homes are mortgaged through banks and mortgage companies affiliated with ALEC. Our homes are insured by carriers supporting the use of inmate labor. Our phones are provided by those who are also involved and our medications also fund these same ALEC activities. Even the fast food places we depend upon are part of the overall PIC operation – McDonalds and Wendy’s.

Reservations we make for American Airlines and the likes of AVIS rent-a-car are taken by inmates. More and more call centers are coming on line every day manned by inmates in both state and federal prison operations. Each position taken by an inmate, used to belong to private sector workers who are now unemployed.

Another industry I’ve briefly touched upon needs to be discussed here. That is the agriculture industry. One side effect of immigration laws being enacted in the Western states is the reduction of migrant workers in those states that have passed tougher immigration policies. Not one to miss such an opportunity, prison industries are vying to fill the voids created by these laws.

Colorado has been one of those states hardest hit because of new laws similar to that of SB 1070. In an effort of providing labor to the farmers in that state, the legislature has partnered with the state DOC to implement a new program allowing for the use of inmates on private farms.

To meet the needs of the capitalist farmers, the state legislature has partnered with the Colorado Department of Corrections to launch a pilot program this month that will contract with more than a dozen large farms to provide prisoners who will work in the fields. More than 100 prisoners will go to farms near Pueblo, Colo., to start the program in the coming weeks.

Prisoners will earn a miserable 60 cents a day. The prisoners will be watched by prison guards, who will be paid handsomely by the farmers. The practice is a modern form of slavery.

The corporate farm owners and capitalist politicians are defending the program. They claim that business needs to be “protected” for the sake of capitalist production in the agricultural sector.


There were many indicators that this was on the horizon over three years ago, when articles began to appear about several states switching from migrant farm workers to inmates:

As states increasingly crack down on hiring undocumented workers, western farmers are looking at inmates to harvest their fields. Colorado started sending female inmates to harvest onions, corn, and melons this summer. Iowa is considering a similar program. In Arizona, inmates have been working for private agriculture businesses for almost 20 years. But with legislation signed this summer that would fine employers for knowingly hiring undocumented workers, more farmers are turning to the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) for help.

It isn’t surprising that agricultural and farming needs would be pointed in this direction by state legislators…where ALEC’s efforts of eliminating “illegal” aliens from agribusiness work coincided with their SB 1070 and earlier state legislative efforts. They realized the impact the laws would have upon immigrant workers and that a labor force would be necessary to take the place of immigrants picked up or scared off by laws like SB 1070. CCA, Geo and state prison industry operators were informed of the expected future labor needs of U.S. farmers and began to gear up in 2007 when ALEC successfully proposed and was able to enact one of the first restrictive immigration laws in Colorado. I believe ALEC projected the impact on farming, predicted the labor need and advised prison industries to be prepared to put inmates out in agriculture work on short notice. As soon as the Colorado law went into effect, prison industries had inmates picked, vetted and with the proper custody level ready to step into the shoes of the missing migrant workers.

All in all a very effective business plan put into place by ALEC and their members – eliminate an entire industry workforce and replace it with a workforce supplied by their members at a wage scale of less than $1.00 per hour. At the same time salaries of the prison staff guarding the workers is paid for by the farmers. Talk about a win-win-win business plan.

Prison labor had been used in Arizona for more than two decades prior to SB 1070. However the enactment of that law made the need for inmate labor to treble – along with profits from that labor.

Other occupations are being impacted by privatization of prison related healthcare. Many doctors are now choosing to work in prison rather than private practice. Obviously this switch lowers the number of doctors available in the private sector. One reason for this change in direction by physicians is retirement benefits and free malpractice insurance offered by prison healthcare corporations, such as PHS.

If more information is needed to clarify the financial impact of continuing incarceration upon us as a society take a brief look at Washington State’s latest efforts to address the state deficit. The below cuts are necessary to reduce the budget by $600 million. A substantial need for such reductions was created because of the state’s continued reliance upon incarcerating more and more citizens, reducing private sector jobs through the use of prison labor by large WA. corporations such as Boeing and Microsoft.

Among the cuts approved by legislators: nearly $50 million from the Department of Corrections, including the closure of a prison facility; $50 million from K-12 education, including funding intended to keep class sizes small; $51 million from higher education, including at several of the state’s flagship universities; nearly $30 million from a state-subsidized health insurance program for the poor; and the elimination of non-emergency dental care for poor adults.

What a trade off, huh? More cuts to education and social programs that benefit the poor while they pay out millions to prison industries and private prison operators – and give tax breaks to Boeing and Microsoft. Washington citizens are getting the shaft – especially their students and the poorest among them.

While Washington state is making terrible cuts to the budget, elsewhere prison workers and their supporters are successfully keeping unnecessary prisons open to keep prison staffers from losing their employment. An action that keeps taxpayers funding their salaries – needlessly.

ETOWAH COUNTY, Alabama — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have agreed Thursday to delay removal of more than 300 inmates from Etowah County’s detention center until at least the spring, the Gadsden Times reports.

ICE officials had notified the county Saturday that they would be removing the inmates from the Etowah County jail, which is the only facility in Alabama with a contract to house ICE inmates.

On Thursday, after intercession by the county’s congressional delegation, ICE agreed to keep inmates at the facility and use Etowah County’s prisoner transportation services until March 31, 2011, according to the Gadsden Times, which cites a news release from Sheriff Todd Entrekin.

The decision stops what would have been a substantial economic loss for the jail and could have resulted in the loss of some 49 jobs.”

While this fight to keep jobs and inmates in AL. is fought, another fight results in the loss of a successful privately operated reentry program for ex-offenders in Virginia. The state has decided to “re-vamp” its reentry efforts and closed this and 12 other successful programs. Even in instances where volunteers and organizers step-up to address recidivism, the state steps-in and thwarts their efforts. It’s almost like there are efforts going on at the state levels to keep incarceration and recidivism rates up.

Our country is being turned into a nation of prisoners and those who pay for their incarceration costs – period. Everything else is being cut to keep the PIC in place and profitable. Medicare and Social Security are next in line in the next U.S. Congress. Don’t you find it odd that of all the rhetoric about our failing economy, the cuts to social and community programs, unemployment and unemployment compensation arguments – none of our lawmakers are openly voicing calls for any reduction in imprisonment? I mean there have been hundreds of articles identifying incarceration costs as being responsible for necessary cuts in funding for education and other necessary programs…but no one wants to go on the record as supporting a stop to mass incarcerations? How is it that our elected officials continue to cut more and more out of annual budgets to pay for incarceration and make no effort of reducing the need for that incarceration? I believe it is because they’re paid handsomely to avoid any effort of reforming laws or reducing incarceration. It is simply too profitable to allow us to stop sending men, women and our children to jail and prisons.

This is exemplified by a recent article on Louisiana’s practice of housing state prisoners in local Parish jails:

Legislators wonder why the budget for the Department of Corrections is so large,” said one state employee who is familiar with the department. “As long as they keep trying to criminalize everything they find personally offensive in the name of law and order for the benefit of the folks back home, the budget is going to keep growing.

”Each legislative session, dozens of bills are introduced by Louisiana lawmakers to either create new criminal statutes or to increase penalties for existing laws. Only rarely does a bill attempt to reduce penalties for crimes. In the 2010 regular session alone, for example, 68 of 93 bills addressing criminal procedure and crime, called for jail time for new crimes or longer sentences for existing laws. Those included crimes ranging from “unlawfully wearing clothing which exposes undergarments or certain body parts” to cyberbullying, and terrorist acts.

“Local sheriffs relish the opportunity to house state prison inmates because it infuses needed cash into the local coffers. One state official said the actual cost to sheriffs to house the state prisoners is only a fraction of the $24.39 daily income per prisoner. “It’s a big bonus for the sheriffs,” he said.

Right now prisoners in Georgia are striking due to being used as slave labor by that state’s prison industries. Such strikes are unheard of and one reason is the huge amount of “get-back” available to the prison staff and their willingness to use physical means to force compliance. My heart goes out to these men, as I’ve been there and know how dire their circumstances must be to cause such a dangerous mission from behind bars. Many are trying to provide assistance to them through phone and email communications with prison authorities, but so far the prisons involved (6) remain on indefinite lockdowns with reports of retaliation at each facility being reported via cell phone calls from the inmates. There has been limited media coverage of this historical strike (and no mainstream media attention) – again, it is not in their best interests to publicize this action to the public, for fear of creating a discussion on the merits of using inmate labor in a “slavery like” manner – though from reports, thousands of inmates are participating in the strike. These men represent those who are now performing the work previously performed by Georgia private sector workers, and doing it for pennies on the dollar.

As shown by the above information, every facet of our lives are now touched in some way by prison privatization, prison healthcare, feeding of prisoners or by working prisoners in the PIC. This puts their products in our homes, on our grocer shelves, in our produce consumption and reduces available private sector jobs – including positions for physicians. Sadly we must realize that all of this is financed with our tax dollars that are quickly converted to “profits” once received into the coffers of corporations participating in the PIC.

Many comments have been made to my Insourcing Series saying we should identify those involved and boycott their products and services. As this segment demonstrates, it is nearly impossible to identify each corporation, group, organization or individuals involved in PIC and prison industries. Their products are so vast and diverse, each of our homes now have one or more of those products in use. Even picking up the phone and calling for technical assistance with products, making a reservation or inquiring about services may put us in touch with an inmate on the other end of the phone. The Prison Industrial Complex is simply too vast to avoid or boycott – in a manner typically used by consumers and concerned citizens.

Boycotting is usually an activity used to refuse our business to those involved in practices we object to. In this case it is just too difficult to accurately identify prison industry participants.

I’m working on developing a program now that may allow all of us to identify those companies, businesses and corporations not involved in any way with prison labor or the PIC. We can eliminate the profits realized by corporations using inmate labor, by reducing sales of their products. Just as those participating in the PIC transfer our tax dollars into profits, we can transfer their anticipated future profits back to the private sector worker through participation in this program. The only thing these corporations understand is “profit”. Money drives them and is what gets their attention. So let’s get their attention by denying them sales – not boycotting.

I intend to set up a website allowing those not connected with the PIC, not investing in or funding prison industries and not selling any products made by inmates or inmate provided services to be named. The site is intended to list corporations, retailers, providers and businesses certified as not involved in PIC operations. Links to these certified non-participating company websites and online catalogs, local outlets and products lines will be made available. In addition those industries, corporations, investors, banks, finance companies and others identified as profiting from PIC or prison industries in any form will be identified and “blacklisted”. In this way one comprehensive site can be used to identify those products, services and companies to avoid while providing links to U.S. retailers and companies not involved, that provide the same products or services without the use of prisoners.

In order to participate, these companies must “Certify” in writing that they use no inmate labor, do not invest in or sell products made in prison. Secondly they will be required to use the “Made in U.S.A.” labels with products and services provided by American workers and offer those products to U.S. consumers.

Prison made goods include those made in China and elsewhere that are finding their way to our retail shelves more and more of late. There are strict prohibitions against allowing imported products into the U.S. when those products were made by prison, slave or child labor. These strict provisions are being circumvented in some instances and deliberately ignored by our Custom Service in others. Companies, businesses, retailers and manufacturers wishing to be listed within the proposed site, must certify non-use of those foreign prison-made goods as well.

The site is intended to allow consumers to identify those not involved in prison labor related products and offer shoppers a discount direct from participating U.S. manufacturers, retailers and service providers for purchasing their products or services made by U.S. workers in our private sector markets. This will help increase jobs and deny continued profits to those using inmate labor.

This effort will be time consuming and expensive to develop and put into operation. Sponsors and volunteers will be needed to assist in this endeavor. This is going to need the expertise of a website developer, software programmers, advertising and accounting assistance. We are going to need people to submit to us the names of businesses they own, work for or invest in that are not associated or affiliated with prison labor or products. Money is going to be needed to advertise the site and make consumers aware that such a site exists to provide them with alternatives to prison made products. If successful this will put money into the pockets of those manufacturers and retailers who refuse to become involved in prison made goods for profit. It will provide those businesses with income to hire more workers due to increased production and sales.

Any volunteers…suggestions…advice…assistance? If you believe this is a good idea to help us take back our jobs, eliminate the vast profits made off of cheap prison labor and promote “real” products made by free American workers, write and let me know. If you want to participate or assist in this development, I’m listening…

Originally posted to Bob Sloan on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 03:23 PM PST.

The Brown Codes of Georgia: Black Agenda Report

This is really quite disturbing, how Arizona has become a source of toxic legislation to the rest of the nation. Sorry, folks.

————————————- 

Georgia: The Next Show Me Your Papers State?
By Bruce A. Dixon
Created 03/16/2011 – 11:59
Submitted by Bruce A. Dixon on Wed, 03/16/2011 – 11:59



If some racist Georgia politicians have their way, Georgia will be the next “show me your papers” state. Legislation has already passed in the GA House that will criminalize the everyday activity of undocumented persons, further isolate and stigmatize them, and allow any yahoo with a computer and legal forms standing to sue police departments, judges, city and state officials and agencies who fail to enforce these laws with sufficient rigor and viciousness. Sign the petition demanding GA governor Nathan Deal veto Georgia’s proposed Brown Codes, and your signature will be presented to the governor’s office on March 24, Georgia’s Day of Truth & Dignity.



Last week Georgia’s House of Representatives passed a package of laws that so out-does Arizona’s B 1070 for racist meanness and overreach that some are calling them the Brown Codes [8], after the post-Civil War Black Codes [9] of the 19th century. Like their namesakes, the new Brown Codes are designed to stigmatize, isolate and criminalize an entire community. But while 19th century laws could be written to specifically apply to former slaves, Africans, descendants of Africans, and anybody with visible African heritage, 21st century custom obliges even the most blatant apartheid laws to maintain a veneer of color blindness in their language, while their application and results are carefully calculated to single out targeted communities.

1. Georgia’s proposed Brown Codes [8] write the racist slur “illegal aliens [10]” into state law;

In the spirit of racist American white nationalism, Georgia’s Brown Codes create a class of person it calls — specifically in the legislation — “illegal aliens [10].” This is exactly the same as tacking some degrading adjective onto the n-word, and writing that racist calumny into state law. As we and many others have said elsewhere, the term “illegal aliens [10]” is a dehumanizing and racist slur, the kind of thing civilized people should not allow friends, enemies, or total stragers to utter in their hearing without fear of reproach or correction.

The purposeful logic of the “illegal alien” slur is to deprive targeted people of their humanity, to declare them “aliens” rather than humans, so that they can be made “illegal.” After all, even the most racist American xonophobes sometimes find it hard to make their mouths say “illegal person” or ‘illegal humans.” But now, under Georgia’s Brown Codes, humans unable to prove their immigration status to a doctor before treatment, to a school official upon enrollment, to a taxi driver on the way to work, or to a law enforcement officer for any reason or no reason at all are to stripped of their human rights because they are no longer humans. They become what the legislation specifically calls “illegal aliens,” the legal prey of citizens and bereft of most of the rights of humans.

2. Georgia’s proposed Brown Codes [8] create a series of new, immigration-related felonies;

Look for a job, go to jail!

UnderGeorgia’s proposed Brown Codes, applying for a job with a false ID will become a felony punishable by one to five years in prison for the first offense, and three to twenty years in prison for the second offense. If the name or social security number on the ID is that of an actual person, living or dead it becomes “aggravated identity fraud”, a one to ten year stretch the first offense and a three to fifteen for each additional count. The law further specifies that sentences for these offenses may not run concurrently with each other or with any other sentence, that they can only run consecutively. Take that, Arizona!

Give somebody a ride, go to jail!

Giving an undocumented person a ride to a job or to anyplace that furthers a job search will be a misdemeanor for the first offense, and a one to five year felony for subsequent offenses. Taking eight or more such persons at a time into a vehicle for the purpose of working or seeking work will be a one to five year felony for the first offense. Again, no concurrent sentences, only consecutive ones. The only exceptions the law allows are government officials transporting the undocumented to or between courts and jails and administrative proceedings. Taxi and bus drivers, beware!

“Harboring” an undocumented person? Go to jail!

Here’s what the Brown Codes [8] say…

“’Harboring’ or ‘harbors’ means any conduct that tends to substantially help an illegal alien to remain in the United States in violation of federal law…including any building or means of transportation, when such person knows that the person being concealed, harbored, or shielded is an illegal alien, shall be guilty of the offense of concealing or harboring an illegal alien…”

“Harbor” seven or fewer, and your first offense? A misdemeanor, with up to a year sentence. Second and subsequent offenses are one to five felonies. More than seven? Accepting money for this favor, or making a profit? Felony, one to five for the first offense.

There are several more new felonies, but you get the idea. Arizona’s got nothing on Georgia cracker bile and meanness. If Arizona’s racist Sheriff Joe does run for the U.S. Senate, as he is rumored to be doing, if he makes it to DC, he’ll have some like-minded colleagues to caucus with from here. Maybe we can show him how it’s really done.

3. Under Georgia’s proposed Brown Codes [8], all law enforcement officers on contact with any inhabitant of the state will be required to make a “reasonable effort” to ascertain that person’s immigration status

It might be as simple as a glance during a traffic stop. Buffy and Ken don’t look like immigrants. Jose and Hilda? That’s another matter. They might have to answer a question, show some paper. Before the Brown Codes, law enforcement officers were not required to make a “reasonable effort” to determine status unless the person was in custody for a serious offense, such as a felony. Under the Brown Codes, anybody within sight of a law enforcement officer may be questioned and required to prove citizenship or legal status, for any reason or no reason. Take that, Sheriff Joe!

4. Georgia’s proposed Brown Codes [8] enable & encourage any and everybody to sue and recover damages from and force compliance on the part of any state official, judge or body of local government that fails to enforce the Brown Codes with sufficient rigor.

This is Georgia. Our jails are not full enough and our courts ain’t all that busy. You still can’t sue corporations that poison your air or water, or that sell you murderously unsafe products, deceptive insurance or financial instruments or the like. Class action? Forget about it. Free discovery? You must be dreaming. That is, unless you imagine a local police department isn’t investigating and rounding up immigrants fast enough, or a judge isn’t sentencing them long enough, or the principal of your child’s school or your local hospital has allowed a few to slip past its checkpoints….

Georgia’s new Brown Codes will give any yahoo with a computer and some legal forms free discovery and the legal standing to sue to force compliance on the part of and recover damages from any judge, sheriff, police department, city, county or state official or subdivision of state or local government for failing to enforce its provisions with sufficient rigor and viciousness. Georgia will lend its courts and judicial system to any yahoo that wants to ratchet enforcement up a notch.

Who says the South isn’t different? And where are the Democrats on this?

While Democrats in Georgia’ House, who are almost all black outside metro Atlanta, voted against the measures, and a few made impassioned speeches from the state house floor, none conducted public hearings in their own communities, especially black communities, to inform them of the provisions of the new Brown Codes. Georgia’s leading Democrats are like that. Lots of talk, relatively little action, practically no effort to educate the public.

Nationally, the immigrant community supported President Obama and Democrats overwhelmingly the last several elections, and has little to show for it. Deportations however, are at an all time high under President Obama. The president did issue a tepid sort of condemnation of Arizona’s notorious anti-immigrant law. We hope he does at least that much for Georgia, but we aren’t counting on it. Locally the black mayor of Atlanta, while he was a leading Democratic state senator, sponsored legislation that would have made it a felony to look for a job with a fake ID back in 2006 [11]. So even if Dems are voting against this stuff this time, counting on the Democratic establishment to effectively oppose this kind of thing is, well… unwise.

SIGN THE PETITION [12] ASKING GEORGIA GOVERNOR NATHAN DEAL TO VETO THE BROWN CODES


Georgia’s immigrant communities have declared that March 24 in Atlanta and statewide will be a Day of Dignity, during which all are asked to assemble at the state capital and make visible our demands to honor the humanity of all peoples, to oppose the racist assaults on immigrants unde cover of state law. The Georgia Green Party, of which in full disclosure I am a state committee member warmly endorses the Day of Dignity, as probably do many Democrats, as individuals, at least.

Please sign the petition [12] asking Governor Nathan Deal not to out-do Arizona in its demonstration of racist meanness. It’s unworthy of all of us. We will present hard copy of the signatures to the governor’s representatives on March 24, only a few days away. Those who sign and mark the “contact me” box will receive a follow-up note with stills or video of the presentation of their signatures to the governor’s office by month’s end.

So click here and sign now [12], especially if you live in Georgia. We don’t want Georgia to be the next “show me your papers” state. Thank you.

Bruce Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and based in Marietta GA. He’s also a member of the state committee fo the Georgia Green Party, and reachable at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.