Updated: Sep 7, 2019
Thank you for allowing me a voice! It’s not every day I get the opportunity to be heard.
My name is Anthony Williams, I was born in Eatonville, FL, it’s America’s first black incorporated town located outside of the city of Orlando. I was raised in the pine hills neighborhood known as “Crime Hills “due to the high rate of criminal activity. Unfortunately, I allowed this environment to have a negative impact on me, which ultimately landed me in prison. I take full responsibility for my actions and I have sincerely apologized countless times to those I have hurt. If I knew then, what I know now, of the poor justice system in America I undoubtedly would have taken another course in life.
Enough about me because this is not what I’m writing about. This is about the 2 million prisoners incarcerated throughout the United States of America. These silenced men and women who have no voice and are currently being enslaved, yes you heard it correctly: slavery still exists! And can you believe in America it’s legal? How can this be? none other than the 13th Amendment to the united states constitution permits such.
Stating: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the united states, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. But wait! this is only the beginning, there’s more: Just as slaves in America’s distant past were forced to work on plantations for no wages, prisoners are currently enduring this same treatment in the Florida department of corrections. Refusal to work an assigned job which pays no wages whatsoever results in the inmate’s placement into confinement for up to 60 days and losing up to 90 days of earned gain time, the inmate may also receive bad conduct reports for parole board review.
I know! I know! Everyone should work but prisoners having to work isn’t the issue. I agree that the value of productive work performed by prisoners correlates to rehabilitation as well as combats boredom, idleness, reduces institutional tension, teaches and reinforces skills and attitudes which can be used contractively upon release. The current issue at hand is compensation! compensation for an inmate labor in America is usually minimal, literally falling below $1 per day. Prisoners in Louisiana typically earn two cents per hour, a year wage of $38.40, now check this out. Here in our very own sunshine state only a small percentage of prisoners earn wages and all profits made from inmate’s labor goes directly to the agency (slavery or not?) Unfortunately, inmates have no say in their exploitation because forcing inmates to work without pay does not violate the 13th amendment. What does this have to do with you? Think about it, prisoners not receiving any wages for their labor prevents them from repaying their debts to society, additionally incarcerated mothers and fathers are barred from supporting their families from behind bars. As of 2016, some estimates conclude that more than 800,000 inmates are currently employed full time within jails and prisons, now imagine if they were all paid sufficient wages for their labors? Think about the positive effect it can have on society? This isn’t about me, nor the prisoners anymore, but about the betterment of America.
What can you do to help? The Florida constitution, article in section 5 states: The people shall have the right peaceably to assemble, to instruct their representative and petition for redress of grievance. In other words, contact your state representative or state senate and present these points peacefully, also chapter 120 Florida statues allows the state citizens and prisoners to seek the Florida department of corrections to pass a rule for more inform on the step by step process.
Anthony Williams #x83375