The Flagstaff City Council recently considered a contract for prison labor.
Rehabilitation of prisoners is valuable not only for the incarcerated, but for society as a whole. It is important that, when released, the ex-convict become a valuable part of society. Work during incarceration can be a valuable tool for someone to realize the responsibility and value of becoming a part of society.
Being paid a reasonable wage is a big part of that, for that is why most people work, to make a living. We should be paying prison labor a living wage. They would get a fair paycheck for their work, just as everyone on the outside should be getting.
They would have taxes, FICA and health insurance taken out, also, like every citizen does. This makes them contributing members of society, as a whole, and teaches responsibility. Also, responsible citizens would save 10 to 15 percent of their wage in a retirement account which makes each of them less dependent on government assistance in their later years. Room and board would be deducted, of course. Raises and promotions show that work has rewards. Much of the work offered prisoners could be on the outside, as trustees.
It may work out that the prisoner receives just five cents per hour after all of these deductions but that could easily be more than many on the outside that earn the bottom wage.
But then, rehab has never been a priority in our punitive oriented country. Which way does Flagstaff want to go? Should we be a good, just and decent society?