Florida Continues to Use Slave Labor During Coronavirus Outbreak
by Kevin Bliss
Florida is one of a handful of states that doesn’t pay prisoners to work, constituting what some consider slave labor. Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) continues to use prison labor during the coronavirus pandemic, despite the obvious risk it poses.
The Florida Times-Union reported in May that 3,500 prisoners were being used in work squads that service 67 counties in the state. There were 34 work camps across the state, contracted for everything from grounds maintenance to sewage treatment to moving services. Government agencies paid the DOC $2 per prisoner per hour for their labor. The prisoners work in Florida’s unrelenting heat and do not see any of those wages.
Although representatives from the DOC have stated that labor practices have been limited during the pandemic, they have declined to discuss what preventative measures have been taken.
The prisoners live in close-quarter communities and travel to and from work sites on crowded buses. In late May, the state reported more than 53,000 cases of COVID-19 in early April while the DOC website claims over 1,400 cases among prisoners and 261 among staff.
“I mean, this is not safe for the people in prison — or for the surrounding communities,” stated Alison Wilkey, public policy director at John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Prisoner Reentry Institute.
“Using people in prison for low-paid labor is a horrific practice in normal circumstances — it really is akin to slave labor. But, there’s a very particular risk in this situation where there’s a highly infectious virus circulating.”
More from this issue:
- These Sheriffs Release Sick Inmates to Avoid Paying Their Hospital Bills, by Connor Sheets, AL.com, with ProPublica
- North Carolina Prisoner Escapes to Flee Coronavirus Death Sentence, by David Reutter
- From the Editor, by Paul Wright
- Company Hawking Prison Phone Monitoring Technology as Way to Discover Coronavirus Infections, by Matthew Clarke
- Thinking in a Pandemic: Let the People Go, by Joseph Margulies
- BOP Loses Fight Against Orders to Release Ohio Prisoners Threatened By Coronavirus
- Staying Alive: A Doctor’s Guide for Prisoners on Staying Safe During COVID-19 Pandemic, by Michael D. Cohen, MD
- ‘Prisons Are No Place for a Pandemic:’ Advocates Fight to Free Their Loved Ones, by Victoria Law
- GEO Jail in New York City Sees Rapid Spread of Coronavirus
- Former Missouri Jail Prisoner Ordered to Repay $1.3 Million Settlement for Faking Injuries But Whereabouts Unknown, by Jayson Hawkins
- Coronavirus Kills Michigan Prisoner Days Before His Release After Serving 44 Years, by Chad Marks
- Prison Postcards: Official Accounts Differ from Prisoner Accounts as the Pandemic Spreads, by Ken Silverstein
- Interview: David Fathi of ACLU’s National Prison Project on Criminal Justice Reform in the Age of Coronavirus, by Ken Silverstein
- Coronavirus Pandemic Could Vastly Reduce Prison Voting, by David Reutter
- Eleventh Circuit Says COVID-19-Wracked Miami Jail Can’t Be Forced to Give Prisoners Soap, Masks, by David M. Reutter
- Ohio Prisoner with Coronavirus Released Without Use of Preventative Measures; Cases Inside Soaring, by Kevin Bliss
- Large Scale Releases and Public Safety, by Peter Wagner
- Alabama Reopens Ancient Prison to Quarantine COVID-19 Prisoners, by Edward Lyon
- CoreCivic Detention Center Demanded Detainees Sign Liability Release to Receive Masks, by Kevin Bliss, David Reutter
- COVID-19 Cases Soar at Federal Prisons in California; Half at Lompoc Have the Coronavirus, by Derek Gilna
- Unsealed Documents Expose Treatment Failures at San Diego Jail, by Anthony Accurso
- Federal Court Slams Michigan Jail for Bungling COVID-19 Pandemic, Demands Names of Vulnerable Prisoners for Release, by Christopher Zoukis
- Prison Officials Limit Prisoner Communications During COVID-19 Crisis, by Derek Gilna
- Rhode Island Corrections’ Union President Fined for Excessive Political Donations, by Bill Barton
- Silence: The Bureau of Prisons’ Pathetic Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, by Christopher Zoukis
- Hawaii Institutes Non-Contact Visits at Another Prison to Control Contraband, by Kevin Bliss
- New York Judge Orders Release of 18 Rikers Island Detainees Due to COVID-19 Risk, by Christopher Zoukis
- Number of California Prisoners Falling; Lifer Population Declines Slightly as Well, by Edward Lyon
- $200,000 Awarded to Missouri Prison Guard Over Sexual Harassment, Retaliation, by Matthew Clarke
- Kansas County Jails People for Unpaid Medical Bills, by Douglas Ankney
- New ACLU Study Says COVID-19 Deaths in Prison Will Soar Without More Releases, Fewer Arrests, by Derek Gilna
- Deplorable Conditions at South Carolina Prisons Prompt Call for UN Intervention, by Edward Lyon
- Louisiana Governor’s Inaction Prevents Release of Grandmother Hospitalized with COVID-19, by Kevin Bliss
- Report: Oaks of Justice Pitch to Help Prisoners Return Home Appears Shady, by Bill Barton
- First Prisoners and Staff, Including a Warden, Dead from COVID-19 in Louisiana; Hundreds Infected, by David Reutter
- Florida Continues to Use Slave Labor During Coronavirus Outbreak, by Kevin Bliss
- Interview: Don Specter of the Prison Law Office on California Prisons, COVID-19 and Governor Newsom, by Ken Silverstein
- Report: Tennessee Prison Population Climbs, Bucks Nationwide Trend, by David Reutter
- Mississippi Jail to Stay Open Despite Massive “Financial Trouble”, by Chad Marks
- Audit: Massachusetts Department of Corrections Failed to Provide Timely Health Care or Reentry Services, by Douglas Ankney
- Nebraska Prison Employee Labor Agreement Contains Unusual Provision, by Matthew Clarke
- Sandoval County, New Mexico Settles Public Records Lawsuit with Human Rights Defense Center, by Derek Gilna
- New York Federal Guard Sentenced to 25 Years for Sexually Abusing Prisoners, by David Reutter
- Coronavirus Crisis: Wisconsin Releases Around 1,600 Prisoners, an ‘Inconsequential’ Number
- California Prison Reform Results in Housing Challenges for Former Prisoners, by Anthony Accurso
- Sign the Papers! Alabama Prisoners Get Masks for COVID-19 but With Strings Attached, by Edward Lyon
- HRDC Settles California Jail Censorship Suit for $143,500, Consent Decree, by Derek Gilna
- More Than 200 Convicted of Corruption at Baltimore Department of Corrections; More Charges Announced, by Kevin Bliss
- Innocence Project Working to Prove Arkansas Executed Innocent Man, by Edward Lyon
- $500,000 Settlement for Colorado Prisoner Beaten During Seizure, by David Reutter
- Tenth Circuit Reinstates Colorado Prisoner’s Claim that Requires BOP to Release Him from Imprisonment for Marijuana Possession, by Matthew Clarke
- $500,000 Settlement From Psychiatrist for Failing to Treat New Mexico Prisoner Who Committed Suicide, by Matthew Clarke
- Florida Prison Officials Ordered to Not Retaliate Against Prisoner, by David Reutter
- $2,800 Verdict As Jury Finds Pennsylvania Jail Discriminated Against Women Prisoners in Reentry Center, by David Reutter
- Nevada Supreme Court Holds Firefighting Prisoner Cannot Challenge Worker’s Compensation Based on Prison Pay, by Matthew Clarke
- Tornado Rips Through South Carolina, Displacing Federal Prisoners, by Matthew Clarke
- Federal Judge Keeps Heat on Florida to Implement Amendment 4 Voter Restoration for Ex-Felons, by David Reutter
- Gallup Poll Shows Growing Opposition to Death Penalty, by Douglas Ankney
- News in Brief
More from Kevin Bliss:
- $1 Million Payout to Family of Man Who Died After Seizures in Montana Jail, July 1, 2020
- Reports: COVID-19 More Prevalent Than Reported in Nation’s Prisons and Jails, July 1, 2020
- Sale of Clandestine Surveillance Equipment Available to the Government and “Select Clients”, July 1, 2020
- Policy Change Leads to Gang Riot at Utah Prison, July 1, 2020
- COVID-19 Changes the Face of Education in the Nation’s Prison Systems, July 1, 2020
- Prisoners Replace New Orleans Sanitation Workers Striking for Coronavirus Hazard Pay, July 1, 2020
- Report: Risk Assessment Tools not Effective, Especially When not Used, June 15, 2020
- No Trust Between Police and Communities They Patrol, June 15, 2020
- Ohio Prisoner with Coronavirus Released Without Use of Preventative Measures; Cases Inside Soaring, June 1, 2020
- CoreCivic Detention Center Demanded Detainees Sign Liability Release to Receive Masks, June 1, 2020
More from these topics:
- Florida’s Refusal to Release Prisoners During COVID-19 Resulting in Death Sentences, July 1, 2020. COVID-19, Compassionate Release.
- Prison Postcards: A Plea from Kentucky and Dispatches from Texas and Massachusetts, July 1, 2020. Failure to Treat, COVID-19, Lockdowns.
- Unlike U.S., Many Governments Releasing Large Numbers of Prisoners to Reduce Threat of COVID-19, July 1, 2020. COVID-19, Compassionate Release.
- Status of the Pandemic Heading into Summer, July 1, 2020. Failure to Treat, COVID-19.
- COVID-19 Pandemic Leads to Unrest in Prisons Around the Globe, July 1, 2020. COVID-19, Telephone Access, Visiting.
- Florida Guards and Prisoners Fear COVID-19 Infection, July 1, 2020. COVID-19.
- COVID-19 and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, July 1, 2020. Failure to Treat, COVID-19.
- Sixth Circuit Vacates Preliminary Injunction Regarding Elkton Prisoner Class Action, July 1, 2020. Failure to Treat, COVID-19, Deliberate Indifference, Compassionate Release.
- Man Sentenced to One Year For Shoplifting Dies In Prison During Pandemic, July 1, 2020. COVID-19.
- L.A. County Sheriff Says Prisoners Intentionally Tried to Catch Coronavirus to Get Released, July 1, 2020. COVID-19, Compassionate Release.