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NCJ Number: 76524 Find in a Library
Title: At Hard Labor - Penal Confinement and Production in Nineteenth-century America (From Crime and Capitalism, P 341-357, 1981, David F Greenberg, ed. - See NCJ-76520)
Author(s): R P Petchesky
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 17
Sponsoring Agency: Mayfield Publishing Co
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Sale Source: Mayfield Publishing Co
285 Hamilton Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301
United States of America
Type: Historical Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The use of contract labor by American industry during the latter half of the 19th century is described, and reasons why the contract system was discontinued are considered.
Abstract: Contract labor by incarcerated offenders was rationalized as a method for recovering prison costs and as a rehabilitation technique; however, the actual purposes of using convicts for industrial labor were the development of work force discipline among inmates (whose idleness was considered a form of deviance) and the generation of profits. The practice was discontinued for several reasons. First, contractor corruption made the use of contracted labor unprofitable for the state. Second, contractor influence over individual institution operations conflicted with state efforts to centralize authority in the penal system. Third, prison officials were unable to organize their work forces along industrial lines sufficiently to meet unable to take control of prison administration to the degree necessary to introduce sufficient efficiency. Finally, business leaders supported the termination of contract operations as a way to mollify free labor during a time of increasing militancy. Free laborers traditionally perceived prison labor as a threat; however, this group was ineffective in eliminating the contract system. Working class leaders would have been more successful had they attempted to organize prisoners into unions to pressure for improvements in prison pay and working conditions. Notes are included.
Index Term(s): Correctional industries; Inmate Programs; Labor relations
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