Effects of inmate labor

The article "New York Enforces Inmate Labor," Feb. 4, cites three reasons for prisons to have mandatory work policies - none with which I take issue.However, because of unaddressed facts, I do take issue with unbridled mandated work policies.

First, work performed by prisoners often is used by states and municipalities, in these times of budget crises and cuts, to replace payroll employees who historically and customarily perform such tasks. When this occurs, working people lose gainful employment and, as unemployment levels are at one of the highest points in our history, are frequently unable to regain employment - thus adding to the bulging unemployment and welfare statistics.

Second, forced labor is counter to provisions of Convention No. 105 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), a treaty the Congress of the United States ratified and to which the US became a signatory in 1991.

In light of the above facts, articles on mandatory work policies in the US corrections system should be mindful of necessary limitations for the well-being of the working people. John H. Dunne, Silver Spring, Md. International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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