Inmate Lawsuit Exposes Forced Labor in Prison Fields – Seeking Justice and Reform

A class-action lawsuit was filed by men incarcerated at Louisiana State Penitentiary, alleging that they have been subjected to forced labor in the prison’s fields with little or no compensation, even in extreme heat. The men, who are primarily Black, described the conditions as cruel, degrading, and dangerous. They work on Angola, the 18,000-acre maximum-security prison that was once a slave plantation. Their tasks involve manual labor such as hoeing, weeding, and picking crops, often under the watch of armed guards. Failure to work or meet quotas can result in solitary confinement, according to disciplinary guidelines.

The lawsuit argues that this labor serves no legitimate purpose within the prison system but is purely punitive, designed to break the spirit of the incarcerated individuals and ensure their submission. The defendants named in the lawsuit include Angola’s warden, Timothy Hooper, as well as officials from Louisiana’s department of corrections and Prison Enterprises, its moneymaking arm. Representatives for the department of corrections and the attorney for the department have not provided immediate comments on the lawsuit. The United States has a long history of high incarceration rates, with over 2.2 million inmates in federal and state prisons, jails, and detention centers. The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution allows for forced labor of those “duly convicted” of a crime, thus providing a legal basis for such practices.


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