Saw Monday TV show about China's prison slave labor population and found it disingenuous that no mention was made of our prison slave labor population. UNICOR, previously known as Federal Prison Industries is a for-profit corporation run by the Bureau of Prisons - 110 factories at 79 federal penitentiaries. Prisoners are paid either nothing or 23 cents an hour. They can refuse to work but are punished (beaten, tortured) if they refuse. Prison labor outsources jobs Americans want and produce components for McDonnell Douglas/Boeing's F-15 fighter aircraft, General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16, Bell/Textron's Cobra helicopter. No longer just making license plates, prison labor produces night-vision goggles, body armor, camouflage uniforms, radio and communication devices, lighting systems & components for electro-optical battleship anti-aircraft guns along with land mine sweepers and electro-optical equipment for the BAE Systems Bradley Fighting Vehicle's laser rangefinder. Prisoners recycle toxic electronic equipment and overhaul military vehicles. That's why prisons have a vested interest in keeping as many people in jail as possible. Costs more to build jails than schools, but jails are much more lucrative for the prison industry and large corporations. And they don't have to protect prisoners from dangerous toxic conditions. Prisoners clean and overhaul and reassemble tanks and military vehicles returned from combat and coated in toxic spent ammunition, depleted uranium dust and chemicals. Prisoners work covered in toxic dust without safety equipment, protective gear, air firtration or masks, causing severe damage to nervous and reproductive systems, lung damage, bone disease, kidney failure, blood clots, cancers, skin lesions - the list goes on. And on.

Major corporations profiting from slave labor of prisoners include Motorola, compaq, Honeywell, Microsoft, Boeing, Revlon, Chevron, TWA, Victoria's Secret, Eddie Bauer. The U.S. imprisons more people per capita than any country in the world - more than 25% of all people imprisioned in the world. That's why they're lobbying for more prisons to be built - makes them & saves them a lot of money.. Systematic abuse, beatings, prolonged isolation and sensory deprivation and lack of medical care make U.S. prison conditions among the worst in the world 2.3 million prisoners strong - and that's just the official count. It's really more like 4 million. And the drug war is a real cash cow. It's so lucrative to keep non-violent marijuana smokers who are often first offenders with marketable skills and knowledge behind bars as slave laborers. Meanwhile, Americans go without jobs and blame it on the Mexicans when they don't realize that they should blame it on the corporations and banksters and legislators who make this system hum right along. Every public agency and social service is being outsourced to private for-profit contractors - like UNICOR. Look it up if you don't believe me! Google "slave prison labor in the U.S." or "The Pentagon & slave labor in U.S. prisons."

I love my country fiercely. That's why I'm so outraged. I'm paying attention. Are you?

Pam Hanna, Thoreau, NM

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