Convict Labor; Shades Of Nazi Germany?

1378 words - 6 pages

David H. Dallas (author)Dr. Karen SmithEnglish 111: Writing IIOctober 20, 2003Convict Labor; Shades of Nazi GermanyHuman rights violations are an unfortunate part of history and have been well documented throughout the ages. Some of the most heinous abuses happen behind prison walls and closed factory doors where convicts are forced to labor under horrific conditions. Most people are aware that Nazi Germany systematically mistreated prisoners and used them as forced laborers. One wonders how a civilized and cultured German citizenry could allow such atrocities to occur.Unfortunately the violation of human rights did not end with the defeat of Nazi Germany. Around the globe, people are still imprisoned, abused, and forced into labor, often for private industry. In the next few pages, we will examine current practices of prison-industrial abuses that still occur. The New York Times recently profiled such a place:Behind a high metal fence lies a workplace that is part Dickens and part Darwin, a dim, dirty, hellishly hot place where men are regularly disfigured by amputations and burns, where turnover is so high that convicts are recruited from local prisons, where some workers urinate in their pants because their bosses refuse to let them step away from the manufacturing line for even a few moments. (Barstow and Bergmann 1)This stands as a chilling testimonial of man's inhumanity to man. What modern country would allow such conditions to exist? Shockingly the answer is the United States! David Barstow and Lowell Bergmann paint a grim portrait of labor abuses at Tyler Pipe Co. in Tyler Texas in their New York Times series entitled "Dangerous Business".McWane, Inc., the parent company of Tyler Pipe, has shown absolute disregard for fundamental human rights. They have barred worker access to safety equipment, withheld appropriate health care, forced workers to labor under hellish conditions for long hours, and denied basic human needs such as warmth in frigid weather and bathroom breaks. They have violated more health and safety regulations than their major competitors combined. What makes this situation even more disturbing is the fact that our government not only permits such conditions to exist, but supplies Tyler Pipe with convict labor from local penitentiaries (Barstow & Bergmann 2, 5-7, 13).The abuses documented at Tyler Pipe are by no means uncommon. Pharmaceutical companies Parke-Davis and Upjohn openly admit to having "exploited the skills" of inmates by forcing them to work 16-hour days (qtd. in Miller 5). Associated Press reporter Angie Wagner charges that Dell Computer has been placing prison laborers in jeopardy due to the lack of federal safety standards (1). In yet another article detailing Dell's use of prison labor, David Wood, Executive Director of Grass Roots Recycling Network, accuses Dell of creating "a closed, Dickensian world of prisoners condemned to dangerous work for little pay under backward conditions" (qtd. in SVTC...

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