BP Using Prison Labor for Oil Cleanup

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AOL NEWS– BP is hiring prison labor for its oil cleanup efforts, and newly unemployed coastal residents are expressing their outrage, according to a magazine article released this week.

“Hiring prison labor is more than a way for BP to save money while cleaning up the biggest oil spill in history,” reports The Nation’s Abe Louise Young. “By tapping into the inmate workforce, the company and its subcontractors get workers who are not only cheap but easily silenced — and they get lucrative tax write-offs in the process.”

Young writes that BP would not confirm that it had hired inmates. Most prison officials would also declined to answer her questions, though a few did back up what she described as an “open secret” along the Gulf Coast: “A different warden, of a privately owned center, admitted on condition of anonymity that inmates from his facility had been employed in oil cleanup, but declined to answer further questions. … A lieutenant in the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office told me that three crews of inmates were sandbagging in Buras, Louisiana, in case oil hit there. ‘They’re not getting paid, it’s part of their sentence,’ she said. ‘They’ll work as long as they’re needed. It’s a hard job because of the heat, but they’re not refusing to work.'”

In the course of her investigation, Young also personally saw one prison work crew in Louisiana:

“I drove up the gravel driveway of the Lafourche Parish Work Release Center jail, just off Highway 90, halfway between New Orleans and Houma. Men were returning from a long day of shoveling oil-soaked sand into black trash bags in the sweltering heat. Wearing BP shirts, jeans and rubber boots (nothing identifying them as inmates), they arrived back at the jail in unmarked white vans, looking dog tired.”

Young argues that Louisiana’s work-release program for inmates — up to 12 hours a day and six days a week and earning zero to 40 cents an hour — is inhumane. But a staffer with an organization that advocates community-based responses to the spill makes another case against BP’s use of prison crews. “Community members should be hired in the planning stages and paid for their expertise,” she told the magazine. “The local people are the true experts here.”

Read more about BP Hiring Prison Labor at The Nation.

© AOL NEWS, 2010

One thought on “BP Using Prison Labor for Oil Cleanup

  1. Private Prisons are Facsist. The for profit prison is the for profit law maker, the more crimes you commit, the more money they make. They could easily take advantage of people. Poor marijuana puffers, they dont deserve this.

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