prison labor

LA Councilwoman Seeks To Ban City From Buying Goods Made From Prison Labor

Although the 13th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery in 1865, a clause provides for involuntary servitude for convicted prisoners as a punishment for crime.

The California Institution for Men prison fence is seen on August 19, 2009 in Chino, California. Up until an inmate from the California Institution for Women in Corona died on Tuesday from what appear to be complications related to the coronavirus, it was the sole site of virus-related deaths in California prisons.
Photo by Michal Czerwonka/Getty Images

Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez introduced a motion Wednesday that would prohibit the city of Los Angeles from purchasing goods manufactured and services provided by prison labor.

The motion calls for the disclosure of all products, including food, made by an "exploited labor" force to consumers, Rodriguez said.

"Creating systemic change requires us to reevaluate all areas where we sustain practices meant to suppress communities of color," Rodriguez said. "We must end profit-driven prison systems and expand investments in youth education and career development to end the cycle of poverty, inequity and injustice."

Rodriguez said most inmates in the United States perform skilled and unskilled labor for less than $1 per hour. Although the 13th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery in 1865, a clause provides for involuntary servitude for convicted prisoners as a punishment for crime.

The councilwoman said this exemption enables the exploitation of prisoners.

Rodriguez said the trend of buying items made by prisoners is growing in the United States in both state and federal penitentiaries, and contracting out prisoners to the private sector is growing at a faster rate.

The councilwoman said prison labor can include building office furniture, answering customer service calls, manufacturing consumer goods, farm work and fighting fires. In California, tens of thousands of incarcerated men and women work in the prison system.

In the recent wildfires, California employed about 3,100 inmates to provide support to state and federal firefighting agencies.

Rodriguez's motion will return to the City Council for review in the coming weeks, she said.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
Contact Us