Thesis: American prisons are inhumane as the industry only seeks to make profit, resulting in prisons having cheap labour, as well as insufficient medical care, and horrible food quality.Arguments:In order to make money, the prison industry provides cheap labour, forcing inmates to work under poor conditionsThe lack of investment in a legitimate healthcare system results to the death of many prisoners each year The downgrade in food quality, as a means to save money, prevents prisoners from receiving a proper nutrition.Summary:My ISU novel is Great Expectations and this book is basically about an english orphan named pip who one day receives a huge amount of money from an unknown benefactor. This wealth allows him to transition higher into society and the novel is about the hardships he faced during that journey. The reason why I chose my topic is because half way through the book Pip visits a prison that has terrible living conditions and poorly treated inmates.
So this lead me to research more about prison conditions, and specifically in America.Argument 1:In 1979, the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP) was created to allow inmates to work in private sector jobs in order to gain marketable skills upon release. It wasn’t long until the prison industry found a way to abuse the system. Since then, they required prisoners to do work for other big organizations such as IBM and McDonalds, essentially creating a large supply of cheap and involuntary labour. The problem with this is because the the risk of injury is high, prisoners have to work in dangerous environments. For instance, a 2010 report by the General Accountability Office found that federal prisons had allowed dangerous practices for inmates at an electric-waste recycling plant. It also states that many prisoners were exposed to toxic substances and as a result got very sick.
Some prisons fail to supply the required safety equipment for jobs. The inmates were essentially handling toxic waste without supplied proper protection. So they were given cheap gloves and masks and it shows that the industry is willing jeopardise the health of inmates in order to save money.Furthermore, inmates do not receive any workers’ rights such as social security benefits and worker’s compensation insurance. So if they were to get injured on the job, which is very likely since the conditions are unsafe, they won’t get any compensation and it’s basically oh you got hurt, thats too bad keep working.
And if prisoners disagree with these terms they’ll be threatened with punishment. Lastly inmates paid extremely little or not at all for their efforts. According to prisonpolicy.org, the maximum daily earnings for inmates has declined from $4.73 – $3.
45 and on average, prisoners in the U.S. make $0.33 – $1.41. Dollars an hour(ADDRESS PHOTO). So on the left i have an image of how much inmates are paid in different states. You can see prisoners are payed extremely little, some states pay 40 cents an hour and some states like Arkansans don’t pay at all.
Essentially free labour. But you may be asking yourself, why does it matter that prisoners get paid so little? Or why should they even be paid at all. Well prisoners need money to buy life necessities not provided by prisons such as hygienic products, and because their wages are so low, it takes a long time to save up enough money. For example, prisonpolicy.org calculated that in Colorado it would cost an incarcerated woman two weeks of wages to buy one box of tampons which is insane. It prevents prisoners from getting products that they need.
All in all prisons treat inmates like slaves and force them to work in bad conditions.Argument 2:My second argument is that prisons don’t invest a good healthcare and that leads to the death of prisoners. Everybody knows that prison isn’t a clean place. Prisons are overcrowded, you can see in this picture that U.
S. has the highest prison population rate. A lot of people share the same cell, so if someone gets sick, it’s very likely that the other people will get sick as well. The unhygienic conditions lead to high infection rates and the two most common diseases are HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis which can be fatal. Yet prisons still choose to cut corners. For example, a report by the American Friends Services Committee found that private prisons in Arizona dropped their medical spending by $30 million and even reduced staffing. This prevents inmates from receiving the treatment they need and even when they do get treated, inmates are misdiagnosed. As well, prisoners have to wait many days in order to see a doctor because of how overcrowded the prison is.
So even in emergency situations, there may not be immediate treatment. Furthermore, many inmates suffer from mental illness, such as schizophrenia but are often ignored and neglected by the prison administrators. In fact, a report by human rights activist Lovisa Stannow reveals that 2.2 million prisoners who have mental illnesses do not receive psychiatric treatment in America. Leaving these prisoners go unchecked is dangerous because they’ll be likely to harm themselves and other prisoners. People in prison also don’t receive any benefits like Medic-Aid because they are considered criminals, which limits their access to medical examinations and medication.
Another thing is that the few health services provided are not free of charge. Prisoners are expected to pay anywhere between a few dollars to over $100 dollars. This fact alone discourages a lot of prisoners to not seek treatment because, as stated before, wages are incredibly low. The condition of the prisoners will get worse and it will lead to even higher infection rates. Therefore the lack of proper healthcare leads to many deaths.Argument 3:My final argument is that prisoners are being served poor quality of food which leads to problems with their health.
Throughout the years there has been a huge downgrade in the quality of food being served in prison. A report from Prison Voice Washington reveals that the changes in food service in Washington prisons even violate their own Health Nutrition Guidelines. The same report also states that the prison used to grow their own food and bought from local farms but is now reported to have harvested 200 acres’ of only dry peas.
So essentially this prison has went from serving fresh and nutritious meals to serving just dry peas. And you can of course see the decline in quality. Also dry peas may be the healthiest thing some prisons offer because some prisons have traded a healthy food service for processed foods in order to reduce costs.
The new food being served contains high amounts of sugar, fat, and artificial ingredients. Research has shown that just four weeks of having a high calorie diet can lead to long-term problems with cholesterol and body fat. Prisoners eat these foods everyday which results in a multitude of health problems like obesity and chronic diseases. The artificial ingredients have even made prisoners sick. Furthermore, are prisoners not being served enough or sometimes any fruits and vegetables.
Prisoners are able to buy somewhat better food off the commissary but this is expensive, and many inmates cannot afford. The lack of proper meals leads to malnutrition and further health problems. Finally, the food served violate the Healthy Nutritional Guidelines. Will Steel, ex-convict has stated that he has seen boxes labelled with, “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.”, while working in the kitchen and they’re still still serving it to prisoners. In addition, vending machines serve food that have been categorized as “Avoid” in Healthy Nutrition Guidelines for Vending Machines. So they have things like instant oatmeal which contains sugar levels that far exceed the daily intake amount. So what:The way that American prisons handle their inmates is immoral and downright inhumane.
In my previous slide i showed you a prison meal that was just a greasy mess. Why would you feed that to anyone. It’s something that needs to stop. The prison industry should not be able to get away with this kind of inhumane treatment of their inmates and prison conditions have to get better.
I’m not saying that prisoners need to be treated like kings and queens but i think you’ll agree with me that they need at least an environment where they can actually live. Because currently they are not being fed properly, not receiving proper medical attention and treated like slaves. So the conditions have to get better. There are alot of people don’t really care about the health of inmates but we can’t just turn a blind eye and allow these prisoners to be freely exploited the way they currently are. As well you have to remember that these inmates will eventually get released back into society.
So wouldn’t it be better if prisons properly rehabilitate inmates rather than send them off with a huge amount of debt and poor health. In my opinion I think that releasing them in such a state is actually an incentive for them to further commit crimes because they want to get revenge. How many times has someone been released from prison only to repeat their offense and go straight back to prison? So it would be beneficial to society as a whole if the treatment for prisoners are improved. Such an improvement will only happen when industries stop viewing prisons as a business and started viewing them as a rehabilitation centre.Sources:Human Rights Watch: Prison Conditions in the United States, www.hrw.org/legacy/advocacy/prisons/u-s.
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