fr8mech
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Slavery? In The US? Now?

Sat Aug 11, 2012 2:06 am

I guess it's common knowledge that prisoners in some states are required to work in the prison in order to reduce the cost of incarceration and, some say, to aid in the rehabilitation process.

But, this article brings up an interesting situation.

I tend to be a fairly hard line person on the function of incarceration, re:rehabilitation vs. punishment. But, I'm kind of falling to the side of the plaintiff here.

Here in the US, and, I'm guessing, most free democracies, we have the presumption of innocence. i understand that this is kind of a fantasy because when you are arrested, you are placed in a cell and are not freed until a judge frees you via a bail/bond agreement or some other arrangement. But, it's the way the system works, and really, that's ok.

The plaintiff, while incarcerated, had not yet (nor was) convicted of any crime. He was subjected to the same work rules as those who had been convicted.

I believe I have a problem with that. Yes, he is in prison, but he is there because he threatened violence and was not able to make bail/bond or was not afforded the opportunity by the court. Again, he stood accused, not convicted.

I think $11M is excessive, but I'm thinking he has a case.

What do you guys think?
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WestJet747
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Sat Aug 11, 2012 2:30 am

Quoting fr8mech (Thread starter):
What do you guys think?

I have no problem with convicted prisoners doing this sort of work, but this is nonsense. This guy was in prison to wait for his day in court, not to repay his debt to society.

A judge may find this suit frivolous though. $11M is way too high for 6 months of laundry work and a bacterial infection for (alleged) unsanitary conditions at the prison. This guy is taking a bit of a gamble here, but I hope he comes out with something.
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Geezer
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:45 am

Quoting fr8mech (Thread starter):
I believe I have a problem with that. Yes, he is in prison, but he is there because he threatened violence and was not able to make bail/bond or was not afforded the opportunity by the court. Again, he stood accused, not convicted.

I haven't read the article; having said that...........I'm unaware of any place in the U.S. where people who are arrested are thrown in "prison" while awaiting trial ! In "jail" yes; in "prison", no; BIG DIFFERENCE !

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WrenchBender
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Sat Aug 11, 2012 4:20 am

Quoting GEEZER (Reply 2):
I haven't read the article; having said that...........I'm unaware of any place in the U.S. where people who are arrested are thrown in "prison" while awaiting trial ! In "jail" yes; in "prison", no; BIG DIFFERENCE !

You really should read the article, Vermont does mix "pre trial detainees" with "convicted felons" in their prison system.

He has a fair case and should win, not sure how much he will get though.

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fr8mech
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Sat Aug 11, 2012 4:39 am

Quoting GEEZER (Reply 2):
I haven't read the article; having said that...........I'm unaware of any place in the U.S. where people who are arrested are thrown in "prison" while awaiting trial ! In "jail" yes; in "prison", no; BIG DIFFERENCE !

Some states do allow that. Also, this man was waiting 6 months for a trial that eventually did not happen. Long time for a jail to hold anyone.

I'm thinking NYC moves clears someone from the jail to Rikers after 48 or 72 hours.
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DarkSnowyNight
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Sat Aug 11, 2012 7:47 am

This is terrible. I realize that most prisoners really would rather work a gig than sit in the cell all day (in fact, losing a "job" is often a punitive measure for various infractions while incarcerated), but it really should be their choice when awaiting a trial. Not good, state, not good...

Quoting fr8mech (Thread starter):

I think $11M is excessive, but I'm thinking he has a case.

Maybe it is, but if the liability incurred prevents it from occurring again, it will have served its purpose.

Quoting WrenchBender (Reply 3):

You really should read the article, Vermont does mix "pre trial detainees" with "convicted felons" in their prison system.

Right, most states do that. But really, it's still just jail. Yeah, detainees and felons will share the same spaces, but it's usually somewhat transient, with the detainees going to trial and the felons eventually moving off to prison as space becomes available.
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NorthstarBoy
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Sat Aug 11, 2012 8:59 am

From my reading of the article, the end result of this suit might be an injunction against the state of vermont from requiring pre-trial detainees from doing rehabilitative labor. In a way though, requiring everyone, regardless of being a convict or a detainee, to engage in labor, makes sense. If you have two groups of prisoners being housed together and one group has to work all day while the other group pretty much sits around and does nothing while they wait for their trial, there's going to be a degree of resentment from those who have to work against those who don't have to work. This could lead to fights, uprisings or just general inmate behavior problems. I'm guessing that the vermont corrections department sees this as a problem and their solution is to make everyone work, versus the more expensive alternative of creating dedicated jails or even jail wings for those being detained so that they don't come in contact with convicted felons.

It also kind of makes me wonder if his original case was thrown out because his constitutional rights were somehow violated by the way he was treated while incarcerated.
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fr8mech
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:05 am

Quoting NorthstarBoy (Reply 6):
In a way though, requiring everyone, regardless of being a convict or a detainee, to engage in labor, makes sense.

I see and understand your point, but the person has not been convicted of anything. He is being detained awaiting trial. No real easy solution here, if you take the general population's mood into account.

I'd be interested to see the result and read the remedy, assuming the court finds for the plaintiff.
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DarkSnowyNight
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:47 am

Quoting NorthstarBoy (Reply 6):
If you have two groups of prisoners being housed together and one group has to work all day while the other group pretty much sits around and does nothing while they wait for their trial, there's going to be a degree of resentment from those who have to work against those who don't have to work.

No, trust me, it's the other way around. I spent three weeks in the county jug once upon a time. You'd really much rather have something to do than rot in a cell all day. Unless you've also been there, it's difficult to convey how painfully boring 22 hours a day in 10 x 10 really is.

But, the state did command his labor without a conviction, and that looks like a 8th amendment issue to me, hence the suit.
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PanHAM
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:47 pm

Quoting fr8mech (Thread starter):
Here in the US, and, I'm guessing, most free democracies, we have the presumption of innocence.

.......until proven guilty and until this is confirmed and through all courts and appeals, you are may be locked up (in case you are accused of a severe crime) but you have a different status than convicted criminals. If you want to work, you may eventually do so, but a pre-trial detainee cannot be forced to work here.

Quoting WrenchBender (Reply 3):
Vermont does mix "pre trial detainees" with "convicted felons" in their prison system.

this is, in a state ruled by thze law, highly questionable. Same as locking up people for petty stuff.
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us330
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:59 pm

Quoting fr8mech (Thread starter):
I tend to be a fairly hard line person on the function of incarceration, re:rehabilitation vs. punishment. But, I'm kind of falling to the side of the plaintiff here.

Your stance on this issue isn't inconsistent with the position articulated here. The difference, as you rightly point out, is that those that are incarcerated are already proven guilty. Whereas this man was not found guilty of anything--it was pre-trial.

The guy definitely has a case, and I hope he wins.
 
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Dreadnought
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Sat Aug 11, 2012 1:04 pm

Quoting fr8mech (Thread starter):
The plaintiff, while incarcerated, had not yet (nor was) convicted of any crime. He was subjected to the same work rules as those who had been convicted.

In general I would agree in terms of having to do farmwork or other sort of labor prior to conviction. However he was helping with the prisoners' laundry - someone has to do it. It's no different in the army, or a summer camp - you are not in a hotel. You make your beds, do your laundry, clean the bathrooms, and man the kitchen, and rotate the duties among the residents.
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PanHAM
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:57 pm

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 11):
It's no different in the army, or a summer camp - you are not in a hotel. You make your beds, do your laundry, clean the bathrooms, and man the kitchen, and rotate the duties among the residents.

...and you're npot in the Army either. If a person is detained pre-trial he is innocent until he is cnvicted and only after all instances of appeal have found the same verdict. Until that, he is innocent and cannot be forced to do anything. Voluntarily yes, but not forced.
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PPVRA
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Sat Aug 11, 2012 6:24 pm

I am glad there is still enough sense in the judicial system to realize that remuneration does not preclude slavery.
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Sat Aug 11, 2012 6:50 pm

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 12):
...and you're npot in the Army either. If a person is detained pre-trial he is innocent until he is cnvicted and only after all instances of appeal have found the same verdict. Until that, he is innocent and cannot be forced to do anything.

There is a big difference between laundry (a necessary function for the health of the inmates themselves) and putting them on a chaingang working the fields or roadwork.

Quoting PPVRA (Reply 13):
I am glad there is still enough sense in the judicial system to realize that remuneration does not preclude slavery.

Don't get me wrong - I am in full support of chain-gangs and forced labor for convicted criminals. Prison should not be Club Med. Far too many ex-convicts keep getting sent back to jail, indicating that the deterrent function of prison (never mind rehabilitation) is not being fulfilled.
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PanHAM
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:00 pm

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 14):
There is a big difference between laundry (a necessary function for the health of the inmates themselves) and putting them on a chaingang working the fields or roadwork.

I didn't even think about chain gangs, which, indeed is slavery. I thought that was abolished.

Whatever, a pre-trial detainee is innocent until proven guilty. He cannot be forced to work, he has special privileges a convicted criminal does not have. Putting pre-trial detainees together with convicted criminals is highly questionable. and does not fit a state ruled by the law.
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N1120A
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:45 am

This quote is excellent:

"Contrary to the district court's conclusion, it is well-settled that the term 'involuntary servitude' is not limited to chattel slavery-like conditions," appellate judge Barrington Parker wrote in the court's opinion. "The amendment was intended to prohibit all forms of involuntary labor, not solely to abolish chattel slavery."

Quoting fr8mech (Reply 4):
I'm thinking NYC moves clears someone from the jail to Rikers after 48 or 72 hours.

Rikers is a jail, not a prison.

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 14):
Prison should not be Club Med. Far too many ex-convicts keep getting sent back to jail, indicating that the deterrent function of prison (never mind rehabilitation) is not being fulfilled.

Prison is hardly Club Med (or Club Fed, as some are known). The high recidivism rate has nothing to do with prisons being pleasant, as prisons in the US are rather horrid places. The "nice" prisons are generally for the Bernie Madoff types.
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Kiwirob
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Tue Aug 14, 2012 7:53 am

Quoting N1120A (Reply 16):

Prison is hardly Club Med

Come to Norway and it is.
 
fr8mech
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:14 pm

Quoting N1120A (Reply 16):
Rikers is a jail, not a prison.

So it is. Learn something new everyday.

Quoting N1120A (Reply 16):
as prisons in the US are rather horrid places

As they should be.

[Edited 2012-08-14 11:15:16]
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bhill
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:27 pm

Looks like the State "screwed the pooch" on this one, it gets better:

"CONCLUSION
The judgment of the district court is REVERSED and the case is REMANDED to the district court for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.

1. The Clerk of the Court is directed to amend the official caption of this action to conform to the caption listed above.

2. In addition, McGarry's pro se complaint alleged (1) violation of his First Amendment rights related to access to reading materials; (2) violation of his First and Sixth Amendment rights arising from restrictions on his access to mail and telephone communication with his attorney; (3) and violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §201. The district court dismissed all claims. McGarry appeals only from the dismissal of his Thirteenth Amendment claim.

3. Because McGarry's claim was dismissed solely on the ground that he failed to state a claim under the Thirteenth Amendment, the district court never reached the question of whether the complaint correctly named the responsible prison officials or sufficiently pleaded the involvement of each individual defendant. The adequacy of the complaint in this regard is best considered in the first instance by the district court. See Farricielli v. Holbrook, 215 F.3d 241, 246 (2d Cir. 2000) (per curiam); see also Fulton v. Goord, 591 F.3d 37, 45 (2d Cir. 2009).

4. And it is obvious to us that conditions of confinement, pre-trial as well as postconviction, are not intended to be — and rarely are — pleasant.

5. Consistent with that position, federal corrections regulations provide that "[a] pretrial inmate may not be required to work in any assignment or area other than housekeeping tasks in the inmates' own cell and in the community living area, unless the pretrial inmate has signed a waiver of his or her right not to work." 28 C.F.R. §545.23(b).

6. Although defendants' (12)(b)(6) motion to the district court argued that McGarry's work was voluntary, they did not pursue this argument on appeal. On appeal, they principally contend that his claim must be dismissed because permitting it to go forward "would demean and trivialize the deep significance of the Thirteenth Amendment in the history of this country." Appellees' Br. at 12.

7. Normally, where it is alleged that a "a prison restriction infringes upon a specific constitutional guarantee," this Court will evaluate the restriction "in light of institutional security. Security is the main objective of prison administration; prison officials must have broad latitude to adopt rules that protect the safety of inmates and corrections personnel and prevent escape or unlawful entry." United States v. Cohen, 796 F.2d 20, 22 (2d Cir. 1986). Here, however, defendants advance no securityrelated rationale for compelling detainees to do the institution's laundry.

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DocLightning
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:26 pm

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 11):
In general I would agree in terms of having to do farmwork or other sort of labor prior to conviction. However he was helping with the prisoners' laundry - someone has to do it. It's no different in the army, or a summer camp - you are not in a hotel.

If you have not been found guilty of a crime, then you are in a hotel run by the government and you are an involuntary guest. The Constitution is quite clear. There is not to be ANY involuntary servitude unless by due process.

This is not the army or a summer camp, both voluntary situations. This is a jail.
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fr8mech
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:54 pm

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 20):
If you have not been found guilty of a crime, then you are in a hotel run by the government and you are an involuntary guest. The Constitution is quite clear. There is not to be ANY involuntary servitude unless by due process.

Pretty much how I feel about it. Unless he signs a waiver, he should only have to clean-up after himself. As for cleaning up community areas, only the areas he has directly affected, i.e. bussing his own tray.

I still think he's asking too much.
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DocLightning
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:42 am

Quoting fr8mech (Reply 21):
Pretty much how I feel about it. Unless he signs a waiver, he should only have to clean-up after himself. As for cleaning up community areas, only the areas he has directly affected, i.e. bussing his own tray.

I still think he's asking too much.

I agree. But legal fees and fair wages would be fine. And maybe something punitive to the jail to remind them not to do that.
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fr8mech
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RE: Slavery? In The US? Now?

Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:48 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 22):

I agree. But legal fees and fair wages would be fine. And maybe something punitive to the jail to remind them not to do that.

Kind of what I was thinking. But, the punitive part is the sticker. Hell, you know as well as I do, that's where the bulk of this $11 million is coming from.
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