“Free” Labor: An Introduction

Source: Whitney Benns, OnLabor blog, May 26, 2015

…. What are the connections between prisoners’ rights activism, prisons, employment law, labor law, and immigration law? Why aren’t incarcerated workers considered employees for the organizations for which they labor under law? How did the law develop this way? And what are the implications of these questions for workers and economic justice movements? This entry is the first of a four part series, and serves as an initial introduction to the concept of incarcerated workers. Part Two will explore historical roots of prison labor and describe work systems within prisons. Part Three will explore of the law as applied to this group of workers. Part Four will discuss some of the broader implications of our prison “free” labor system….