Alabama considers prison labor to replace lost immigrants

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As Alabama has been discovering, when you pass the nation’s more draconian anti-immigration law, you end up with a few unintended consequences. Let’s say you arrest a German manager for the local Mercedes-Benz plant for not carrying the right papers, followed by a Japanese employee for Honda, and then the governor has to reassure everyone the state’s open for business. That’s embarrassing.

Then your farmers start having trouble getting the crops in from the field, and even local American-born volunteers can’t make up the difference. Now planting season is coming up, and you’ve got an emergency for farmers, a critical shortage of labor that requires the different parts of the administration to put their heads together and come up with a fix.

Today in Mobile, a government confab will hear a proposal to rescue the farmers with prison labor. That’s right – Alabama is considering solving the crisis its lawmakers created by sending inmates into the fields. Instead of a migrant worker who risked so much to come here, farmers would get convicts. From the Alabama papers:

[T]he agenda includes a presentation on whether work-release inmates could help fill jobs once held by immigrants.

Irony of ironies, the Alabama Department of Corrections says most of its 2,000 inmates who are eligible for work are busy already.

Prison spokesman Brian Corbett says the state has about 2,000 work-release prisoners, and most already have jobs.

Corbett says the prison system isn’t the solution to worker shortages caused by the law.

Prison labor must be popular. Up top, a clip from American Chain Gang, a documentary about prison labor in Alabama and Arizona (which, of course, has the nation’s other most draconian anti-immigration law).

Alabama and Arizona

Alabama considers prison labor to replace lost immigrants

Updated