Criminal History Summary

The archetypical picture of a convict is that of a person working with metal plates or digging ditches. The reality is otherwise. The American prisoner is now part of a versatile work force, which routinely works in a great range of jobs. Some of these jobs are airlines bookings, telemarketing, manufacturing auto parts, etc. (Gordon Lafer, 1st September 1999). Prisoners numbering around two million have become a vast source of forced labour generating billions of dollars in profits. The figures speak for themselves; the U. S. has more prisoners than any other nation, a half million more than China.

The total number of prisoners in the U. S. , including those in prison, on parole and on probation, is around 6,000,000. Most of these prisoners have to work for petty amounts producing clothing, eyewear, furniture, electronic cable assemblies, etc. “U. S. bosses, unable to provide youth, especially black and Latin youth, with jobs either entice them into the military or drive them into prison where they are hired at slave wages. ” (Prison Labour: U. S. style fascism, n. d). The American penal system has to improve education, rehabilitation and job skills of the prisoners so that they can integrate well into society upon release.

(El Moore, 2002). However, this is sadly lacking and no one is concerned with rehabilitating prisoners. During the colonial era, when slavery became difficult to maintain, criminals were deported so that they could be used as forced labourers on plantations in the frontiers of the European countries. Many of these deported convicts were innocent or had committed petty crimes. The foregoing discussion reveals that the U. S prison system’s main objective is to provide cheap labour to industry. In the name of free markets, globalization and capitalism the ills of the colonial age are gaining a new lease of life.

The current trend vis-a-vis imprisonment and prison labour in the U. S is deplorable and deserves to be condemned in the strongest of terms.


Lafer, Gordon. Captive Labour, retrieved from The American Prospect, http://www. prospect. org/print/V10/46/lafer-g. html Prison Labour: U. S. style fascism, retrieved from http://www. plp. org/pamphlets/prisonpamphlet. html Sheik M. Moore El, U. S. prisons as forced labour camps. 2002. News and Letters. Retrieved from http://www. newsandletters. org/Issues/2002/Jan- Feb/prisonlabour_Jan02. htm