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Lecture 7

CRIM 3656 Lecture 7: February 28

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CRIM 3656
Anna Pratt

The Political Economy of Punishment and Canadian Prison Labour: -inmates earn $0.30 per hour for their labour (top of the pay scale) -justifications for prison labour in Canada and the various types of prison labour schemes that exist Punishment and Labour: -prison labour was valued for its contributions to carceral institutions -prison administrators tried to offset the costs by selling prison-made goods or using them as labour -the teaching of these skills could undermine deterrence -the Canadian government justifies prison labour for its benefit to the prisoner, community, and economy -CORCAN, the federal prison industry program, stated that this program serves as cost-effective rehabilitative enhances public safety by reducing recidivism -by providing inmates with the opportunity to work in meaningful jobs, offenders are offered opportunities to rehabilitate -despite the state’s confidence in the value of prison labour, there is empirical evidence revealing that prison labour is ineffective in reducing recidivism -why do prisoners work? 1) Deterrence? 2) Rehabilitation? 3) Retribution? OR: 1) To instill work discipline? 2) As source of private profits and public revenues? Why do Prisoners Work? -there is an ideological commitment that prisoners should work and receive training -our society is organized around employment, thus it makes sense to use prisoners as a form of labour (means of production) -regardless of whether working in prison is effective in rehabilitating, they have economic benefits -ideological commitment: correctional officials believe that work ethic is good -this logic can be seen in the Upper Canadian Penitentiary Act, which discusses that the goal of prison is to reform criminals, part of doing this is injuring them to habits of industry -this inuring prisoners to the basic life skills and motivations necessary for work -so is prison labour about job training and hard skills (trades) or about work discipline and soft skills? -prison labour is about making sure prisoners can work, not to give them skills to work specific (or good) jobs -what are forms of unfree labour? Slavery and indentured servitude -2 types of penal labour: 1) Prison labour: sights of forcible confinement where people may or may not work as part of the punishment 2) Work camp labour: detention solely designed for work ^-totalitarian governments -e.g. Nazi camps -at least twice in Canadian history, there have been labour camps Banff National Park: -Castle Mountain Internment Camp (1915) -it was developed as a national park by detainees of the Castle Mountain Internment Camp -they were interned during WWI 8 Forms of Prison Labour: 1) Convict leasing: notorious for its use in the American South -rent prisoners for a given amount of time -the guarding, management and surveillance of prisons was -the leasees benefit from cheap labour cost and prison administrators benefit from the renting of prison labour -under this system, many workers will work to death as they are so easily replaced -the inhuman logic is evident -convict leasing existed in Canada but was outlawed in early Canadian history 2) Contract (CORCAN, Trillicor): -prisoners are hired by businesses in prisons, which supplies them with raw materials and tools -custodial and security duties remains the responsibility of the prison administration -opening up a factory or work sight in the prisons -e.g. Better Beef Limited in the Guelph Correctional Centre in the mid 1970s: they eventually formed a union 3) Piece-price (CORCAN poppies): -this is a system of prison controlled contractors -prison staff run the production facilities not outside parties -they are responsible for tools and the management of the labour -contractors only pay a fixed rate for the products 4) Public account (CORCAN F&S): -prison-made goods are directly sold on the public market 5) State use (CORCAN): -one of the most common systems involving prison-made goods -exclusively to public institutions and agencies -CORCAN manufactures furniture, textiles, and offers other services -almost all of its clients are the government -it developed in response to the demands of organized labour -governments benefit from this 6) Public works and ways (BC Fire Camps): -prisoners under state supervision employed in the construction and maintenance of public works, such as buildings and parks -this is similar to what the internment camp workers did -they also persist today: British Columbia prisoner fire fighter 7) Private prerelease (Work-release): -this involves private employment outside of the prisons near the end of their sentences -prisoners nearing the end of their sentence work jobs in the community which will hopefully allow them to transition out of incarceration -e.g. Habitat for Humanity 8) Institutional Maintenance (ubiquitous): -the most common form of prison labour -involves all the jobs related to the day-to-day functioning and reproduction of the prison -food preparation, administrative and clerical work, repair, etc. -the tasks required for prisons to function are also performed by prisoners Prison Industry: -in Canada, institutional maintenance exists in every prison -provincial: BC, ON (Trillicor) -federally, there is CORCAN -USA: UNICOR -prison industries are under contradictory pressures -they want to produce as many goods and services as possible at the least amount of labour, but prison industries also have requirements to offer enough work hours to meet rehabilitation needs -commercial laundry is one good example CORCAN Catalogue: Featured Item (Chair): -Annual production: they make 6,200 chairs -3 offender training hours per chair =18,600 training hours in total -prison industry programs are constantly in this weird space of trying to make work, but also trying to operate like real businesses Working Conditions: -wage: Max: $2.07/day (about $0.30/hour) ^-this was introduced in 1981 -when it was introduced, it was calculated to include deductions in room (contribution for offsetting the costs for housing and rehabilitating) -since 1981, prisoners have never had a raise -room and board, along with clothing costs were accounted for in 1981 wage levels -wages were last adjusted in 1986 (when minimum wage was $4.35/hour) -in 2013, prisoners got a 30% pay cut by the Conservative government who demanded they pay for their room and board -high canteen prices (700%
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