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Pay for prison labor ‘unfair’ to inmates and business

by R. Bailey

Black lawmakers criticized the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDOC) prison service program for exploiting and even possibly enslaving prisoners with a traditional work program that pays from $6.75 to $24.25 every two weeks.

Senator Karl Allen called it “shameful.”

However, the truth is our U.S.C.A. 13th amendment does still allow slavery for criminals, and some Florida P.R.I.D.E. workers expressed to this writer that they preferred to earn 25 cents to 55 cents per hour than to work as the majority of prisoners do — for free.

Chad Galloway, vice president of Adventure Golf Carts, and others challenged the pay scale as “unfair” because it forces a private company paying at least minimum wage to compete against a company paying 35 cents to $1.80 per hour. It's “no competition at all.”

When SCDOC director Bryan Stirling read the complaint against the disparity, he informed the companies using prison labor that they would have to apply to operate under Prison Industry Enterprises (PIE) and pay prisoners $7.25 to $8.30 per hour, or not use prison labor.

While Stirling also praised the prison work program for a 10 percent reduction in prison recidivism and a safer prison condition, Brian Babcock, president of Carolina Golf Carts, pointed out how King of Carts profited from cheap prison labor. King of Carts didn't even exist five years ago but, by using cheap prison labor, it rose to be, “one of the biggest golf car dealers around.”

Babcock alleged “that was only possible through this program.” This typified the unfairness of using prison labor to compete against the private sector.


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