– Private Prison Inmates in Nashville Forced to Make Products Prison Employees Later Sell at Flea Market (Liberty Blitzkrieg, Aug 17, 2015):
I’ve written several articles over the years about private prisons and how barbaric, stupid and unethical they are. In case you missed it the first time around, here’s an excerpt from 2013’s A Deep Look into the Shady World of the Private Prison Industry:
Private prisons are antithetical to a free people. Of all the functions a civilized society should relegate to the public sector, it’s abundantly clear incarceration should be at the very top of the list. Jailing individuals is a public cost that a society takes on in order to ensure there are consequences to breaking certain rules that have been deemed dangerous to the happiness and quality of life within a given population. However, the end goal of any civilized culture must be to try to keep these cost as low possible. This should be achieved by having as few people as possible incarcerated, which is most optimally achieved by reducing incidents of criminality within the population. Given incarceration is an undesirable (albeit necessary) part of any society, the idea is certainly not to incentivize increased incarceration by making it extremely profitable. This is a perverse incentive, and one that is strongly encouraged by the private prison industry to the detriment of society.
The largest private prison company in America is Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA. In their Nashville facility, called Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility, prisoners apparently were being forced to make products without pay, which were later sold for profit by prison employees at a local farmers market. Unbelievable.
From ABC News:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Former inmates at a privately run Nashville jail say they worked without pay building bean-bag “cornhole” games, plaques shaped like footballs, birdhouses and dog beds so that officials could sell them through their personal business at a flea market.
“Inmates can legally be required to work without pay, in some circumstances, but jail employees are not supposed to profit from their labor. But former inmates Larry Stephney and Charles Brew say that is what happened with Stand Firm Designs, run by two jail employees and one former employee, according to their business card.
Although the company website says Stand Firm Designs is “composed of retired contractors,” Stephney and Brew said they produced some of the company’s products while working without pay in the jail’s woodshop under fear of retaliation.”
Those products were sold at the Nashville Flea Market and through the website, they said. Plaques went for $10 to $20 and bean-bag toss games commonly called cornhole were $50, they said.
A section of the website with pictures of the plaques Stephney and Brew say they produced has recently been taken down.
To prove the items being sold by Stand Firm Designs were made by inmates, Stephney and Brew concealed their names under pieces of wood nailed to the backs of items. They also wrote the number 412148, which refers to a section of Tennessee code that makes it illegal for jail officials to require an inmate to perform labor that results in the official’s personal gain. The AP was shown some of the items with the concealed names and numbers.
The Stand Firm Designs website calls the company a “Christian-based organization” and alludes to the company name with a Bible quote on the home page, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” The company’s logo is its initials inside a Christian fish symbol.
“You do anything there as an inmate, you get put in the hole,” Stephney said. “If they do something wrong, they should get in trouble too.”
Don’t hold your breath pal.
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