Anyone who has seen the Netflix hit “Orange is the New Black” knows that many inmates work for the prison that they are incarcerated in. It is a form of cheap labor that is highly efficient and keeps the prison running. In the show, the women do everyday tasks that keep the prison afloat. They get compensation for their work, whether it be extra food, time on the phone, or money that they can save up and receive when they leave the prison. But for many illegal immigrants, this is not the case.
It is well known that inmates in low security prisons can work small jobs at the prison while they are incarcerated. What is now being found out is that incarcerated immigrants are “voluntarily” working for about $1 a day. Voluntarily is in quotations because the nature of the volunteerism is being questioned. Many officials believe, and have received eyewitness testimony, that many immigrants are being forced to work in prison, with little to no compensation. This, shockingly, is illegal on many levels. Carl Takei, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project stated, ““This in essence makes the government, which forbids everyone else from hiring people without documents, the single largest employer of undocumented immigrants in the country.”
Although there are laws in place that prohibit this type of thing, many people feel that the prisons are taking advantage of a legal gray area. Many of these transactions are going on off-the-books, so there is really no hard evidence of the prisons doing this other than eyewitness testimony. It is a sticky situation, and hopefully it will come to an end in the near future.