Georgia To Use Cheap Prison Labor To Harvest Crops For Second Year In A Row

When Georgia Republicans passed an anti-immigration law last year, Hispanic farm workers fled the state in droves, leaving farmers with no one left to pick the crops. Republicans said that they were creating new jobs for Americans by clearing out undocumented workers, but as it turns out, the law also scared many legal workers away as well and Americans aren’t crazy about working in the fields all day picking crops for little money. As a result, crops rotted, costing farm owners millions of dollars. Georgia Republicans then had an idea. Replace the field workers with dirt cheap prison labor.

According to 11 Alive News in Georgia, the state “is using transitional prison inmates to work in south Georgia’s Vidalia onion industry this spring. The program is an update of a failed program introduced in 2011, in which the state sent probationers into vegetable fields to help ease a labor shortage that followed the passage of a tough new immigration law.  Growers complained that probationers were unreliable and slow compared to migrant workers who have historically worked in vegetable fields.”

Since the law passed in 2011, growers have complained about worker shortages and as a result of that shortage, crops have rotted. Rotting crops have caused strain on the food supply, causing some prices to rise. So while Republicans wage their race war against Hispanics, crucial fruits and vegetables are left to rot in the fields instead of being used to feed families who need them. And their idea to use prison labor is also a bad move. Republicans across the South are considering similar moves to replace union workers so that businesses can use cheap labor to make products and thus steal jobs held by Americans who earn good wages. Prison labor is a way for big business to find cheap labor here in the United States, and since the prison population is disproportionately African-American, it would basically be a return to slavery. And as the demand for cheap prison labor rises, Republicans will be pressured to keep the prison population high. That means more people will be sent to prison unnecessarily. It also means more Americans will lose their jobs. Why pay someone a fair living wage when businesses can pay pennies to a prisoner to do the same work? This is what we can expect if Republicans continue to be elected to office.