The innocent men in American jails who are forced to work for $0.13 an hour
They haven't been convicted of any crimes, yet they are held behind bars and forced to work for thirteen CENTS an hour.
At least 60,000 immigrants worked in the detention centers last year — more than worked for any other single employer in the country — and the program extends across 55 of the United States’ roughly 250 detention facilities. The pay rate works out to 13 cents an hour, far below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, and is made possible by a 1950 law that set compensation rules for detention facilities. The law was once challenged in a lawsuit under the Fair Labor Standards Act, but in 1990 an appellate court ruled that “alien detainees are not government ‘employees.”
Inmates convicted of crimes often participate in prison work programs and thus forego their rights to wage protections, but the immigrants in these cases are actually civil detainees. According to the program, immigrants cannot work more than 40 hours a week or 8 hours per day. They’re often not paid in cash but in credits towards food, toiletries, phone calls, and other items, and the credits can be exchanged for cash when they leave the facilities. Detainees told the Times that the facility commissaries at which the credits can be used often sell these items at inflated prices, meaning money is made off the immigrants twice: once when they are paid low wages, again when they are charged higher prices.
Officials with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said that local governments operate 21 of the programs, and private companies run the rest, saving the government and the companies $40 million or more a year. Some immigrants being held at county facilities work for free, or are paid with sodas or candy bars.