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Alabama prison labor lawsuit targets discriminatory parole practices and exploitation

13 Dec 2023, Jail News, by

An Alabama forced prison labor lawsuit challenges and alleges exploitation that benefits fast food giants.

Alabama prison labor lawsuit targets discriminatory parole practices and exploitation - Inmate Lookup

Alabama inmates and labor organizations are taking legal action, filing a federal class action lawsuit against the state to abolish the controversial practice of forced Alabama prison labor. This system entails the “leasing” of incarcerated individuals to major corporations such as fast food giants McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, and Burger King.

The legal complaint contends that Alabama accrues $450 million in annual revenue through this practice, according to The Union Journal.

According to the lawsuit, the state’s use of prison labor is equivalent to “modern-day slavery.” According to the Truth Out report, those who are imprisoned are forced to work for government agencies and private companies for little to no pay.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, is on behalf of ten Black plaintiffs who claim that Black Alabamans are disproportionately affected by parole denials, which are allegedly routinely utilized to preserve a pool of workers.

The primary objective of the lawsuit is to obtain compensation for those exploited within Alabama’s forced prison labor system, contending that it is discriminatory and directly violates a 2015 state law mandating evidence-based parole decisions from the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles. The alleged denial of parole to Black individuals at twice the rate of white candidates perpetuates the exploitative cycle within the state.

The lawsuit highlights the widespread exploitation and profits derived from over 575 businesses and over 100 public agencies in Alabama since 2018. These entities engage incarcerated individuals in various tasks, such as driving services, janitorial work, landscaping, metal fabrication, and fast-food service. The suit claims that this exploitation results in annual benefits of $450 million.

Alimireo English, one of the ten plaintiffs, recently received a parole denial, highlighting the difficulties incarcerated people face. Operating around the clock, English remains in the prison labor force without compensation.

The lawsuit squarely assigns responsibility to the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles, accusing them of the exploitation of incarcerated workers in violation of the 2015 state legislation mandating evidence-guided parole decisions. By neglecting this law, the state sustains a system reminiscent of Alabama’s historically notorious “convict leasing” practice.

The complaint highlights the historical background by drawing parallels between the notorious “convict leasing” practice that ran from 1875 to 1928 and Alabama’s present prison labor system. Black laborers were coerced into working for private businesses during this time, which brought in a lot of money for state and local governments at the expense of the workers’ meager pay.

The lawsuit promotes justice and reform in addition to trying to topple Alabama’s system of forced prison labor. The plaintiffs hope to bring about meaningful changes that will safeguard the rights and dignity of incarcerated individuals by drawing attention to the injustices that exist within the current system.