Angela Davis's 'Are Prison Obsolete?'

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As a Birmingham, Alabama native, Angela Davis was exposed to racism and discrimination at an extremely young age. Both her background and upbringing molded her into becoming an activist. Her activism focused on combating the discrimination of black people. Thus, she was extremely passionate about the concept of the prison-industrial complex, because many people of color in the United States are subjected to the injustices of the prison system. Davis became interested in this issue, because she personally endured a fifteen-month jail sentence. Therefore, as a political prisoner, she was exposed to the unjust prison system in the United States. This was one detrimental factor that overall led to her interest in resisting the prison-industrial…show more content…
Prisoners are given the task to participate in labor however, they are not fairly compensated for their work. They are given less than minimum wage, and both the government-owned prisons and private-owned prison owners are benefiting off of the labor of these prisoners. In one of Davis’s books entitled, Are Prison Obsolete?, she quotes two political prisoners, Eve Goldberg and Linda Evans, in reference to prison labor. They stated, “Prison labor is like a pot of gold. No strikes. No union organizing. No health benefits, unemployment insurance, or workers’ compensation to pay. No language barriers, as in foreign countries…Prisoners do data entry for Chevron, make telephone reservations for TWA, raise hogs, shovel manure, make circuit boards, limousines, waterbeds, and lingerie for Victoria’s Secret -- all at a fraction of the cost of ‘free labor’”(84). Thus, these prisoners are given the short end of the stick, because these companies are profiting off of them with little compensation for their work. These companies discovered that is much more profitable to use prison labor to produce their products than to utilize human labor from third world countries. Therefore, the prison-industrial system works to exploit prisoners. Instead of helping these prisoners better themselves, both the government and private-owned prison owners use prisoners to put money in their

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