Colbert shines light on U.S. prison labor

A recent segment on the Colbert Report has brought attention to Unicor, a U.S. government entity designed “to employ and provide job skills training to the greatest practicable number of inmates confined within the Federal Bureau of Prisons”:

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Forcing people to work jobs that pay as little as $0.23/hour seems disconcertingly tantamount to slavery.  And it’s probably important to note at this juncture that the 13th Amendment simply does not apply to prisoners:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction [emphasis added].

The U.S. also imprisons more people than any other country on earth, and minorities are disproportionately likely to be incarcerated (see, e.g., this December 2011 DOJ report, see especially Table 3 in the appendix).  Taken together, this state of affairs is alarming.  To put it mildly.