Recently, a Massachusetts sheriff suggested President-elect Donald Trump should consider using prisoner labor to help build his wall along the United States’ southern border with Mexico. Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson announced his plan to offer his jail inmates the opportunity to volunteer for community service by helping to build Trump’s wall.
Naturally, the sheriff wants the public to believe his plan is motivated by a concern for the inmates and the greater good of the community. He said, “Aside from learning and perfecting construction skills, the symbolism of these inmates building a wall to prevent crime in communities around the country, and preserve jobs and work opportunities for them and other Americans upon release, can be powerful.”
Unfortunately, Sheriff Hodgson’s plan is similar to the prison warden’s plan in the movie The Shawshank Redemption. He used Shawshank prison labor for public works projects in exchange for kickbacks.
In reality, Sheriff Hodgson’s plan is public-relations malarkey. He is aware of the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which allows for slavery and involuntary servitude if the person has been duly convicted of a crime. Therefore, the sheriff will not be asking for volunteers. I imagine the prisoners will be told to go help build the wall or else. This is a capitalist dream come true – cheap Third World labor on American soil. Salivating contractors will be lined up at the chance to exploit prison labor.
As a businessman, Trump likely will not hesitate to endorse the Shawshank Redemption prison labor model to build his border wall.