California Desperately Needs Slave Laborers

The neoliberal paradise of California has a problem. That problem is a shipload of prisoners and only a small rowboat of prisons. This problem actually got so bad at the Nazgûl ruled that a population limit had to be set for the state’s prisons. Well the state’s prison system is not happy about being ordered to free a bunch of its prisoners. Can you guess what it isn’t happy? If you think it has anything to do with potentially dangerous individuals being released onto the street you would be incorrect (since the people being considered for release are nonviolent offenders). It’s because they desperately needs the prisoners for slave labor:

Out of California’s years-long litigation over reducing the population of prisons deemed unconstitutionally overcrowded by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, another obstacle to addressing the U.S. epidemic of mass incarceration has emerged: The utility of cheap prison labor.

In recent filings, lawyers for the state have resisted court orders that they expand parole programs, reasoning not that releasing inmates early is logistically impossible or would threaten public safety, but instead that prisons won’t have enough minimum security inmates left to perform inmate jobs.


The Department of Corrections didn’t like this idea, either. It argued that offering 2-for-1 credits to any inmates who perform other prison labor would mean more minimum security inmates would be released earlier, and they wouldn’t have as large of a labor pool. They would still need to fill those jobs by drawing candidates who could otherwise work fighting wildfires, and would be “forced to draw down its fire camp population to fill these vital MSF [Minimum Support Facility] positions.” In other words, they didn’t want to have to hire full-time employees to perform any of the work that inmates are now performing.”

I do appreciate it when the state is honest about its intentions. For far too long it has been claiming that prisons are about reforming criminals and segregating the violent people from the rest of society. In reality it’s about the massive prison-industrial complex that uses slave labor to cut the state’s expenses.