Pro and con argument's in voters pamphlet
It is worth noting that the two Republican lawmakers who wrote the against arguments for the voters pamphlet are from the 4th LD, close by where a company took advantage of prison labor:
In December 1995, the Redmond, Washington company laid off 30 workers earning $7 an hour plus benefits and moved to the Airway Heights Corrections Center near Spokane. There, five free employees supervise some 40 prisoners who earn $6 an hour. Omega Pacific owner Bert Atwater told the Spokane Spokesman Review that he moved to prison because of the rent-free quarters where "the workers are delighted with the pay; [where there are] no workers who don't come in because of rush hour traffic or sick children at home; [and where] workers...don't take vacations. Where would these guys go on vacation anyway?" Atwater was also pleased that he doesn't "have to deal with employee benefits or workers' compensation."Sarahjane46th over at Washblog writes a defense of 8212, but included this quote that argues against it:
"Although we understand the value for incarcerated people to earn more than 42 cents or $1.10 / hour and we acknowledge the benefits of providing work experience for incarcerated people, we see the prison industries as one of the main cogs in the "Perpetual Prisoner Machine" as described in the book by the same name authored by Joel Dyer. The bottom line is that in the long run, this change support[s] the continuation of mass incarceration in this country."A few newspaper endorsements in favor of it:
Put inmates to work for their benefit -- and ours
Two ballot measures flashy but necessary
The Olympian's half-hearted endorsement (Inmate labor program needs oversight) makes a great case:
By supporting SJR 8212 voters are trusting that the Department of Corrections will enforce the law to ensure that there is no unfair advantage to companies operating inside prisons. The Supreme Court record showed that 37 of the 58 inmates working for MicroJet were murderers. While some will be released some day, many others will never be released from prison. That shoots a hole in Sen. Hargrove's argument about rehabilitation.Which is why I'm probably voting against it. The constitution of the state makes it illegal to use prison labor because of its built-in pitfalls. Prisoners by their nature aren't employees. They can't quit being prisoners, and they can be treated as slave labor. It's better to just not open up a loop hole for abuse.
Nonetheless, with proper oversight from Corrections and assigning appropriate inmates to the tasks, this program can work.
But, I'm willing to listen to anyone who can argue otherwise.