Wednesday, July 5, 2006
From nytimes.com: Many people here in East Carroll Parish, as Louisiana counties are known, say they could not get by without their inmates, who make up more than 10 percent of its population and most of its labor force. They are dirt-cheap, sometimes free, always compliant, ever-ready and disposable.
You just call up the sheriff, and presto, inmates are headed your way. "They bring me warm bodies, 10 warm bodies in the morning," said Grady Brown, owner of the Panola Pepper Corporation. "They do anything you ask them to do."
National prison experts say that only Louisiana allows citizens to use inmate labor on such a widespread scale, under the supervision of local sheriffs. The state has the nation's highest incarceration rate, and East Carroll Parish, a forlorn jurisdiction of 8,700 people along the Mississippi River in the remote northeastern corner of Louisiana, has one of the highest rates in the state.
As a result, it is here that the nation's culture of incarceration achieves a kind of ultimate synthesis with the local economy. The prison system converts a substantial segment of the population into a commodity that is in desperately short supply — cheap labor — and local-jail inmates are integrated into every aspect of economic and social life. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]