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concerning farms run by prisoners

  • Subject: [cg] concerning farms run by prisoners
  • From: "a.h.steely" gfcp@mindspring.com
  • Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2002 20:19:55 -0400

In the state of Pennsylvania, the prisons were set up to sew uniforms, farm
food, make furniture, etc. for all the state facilities.  Those included the
prisons, the state hospitals for the insane and state run orphanages.  That
all ceased in the 1970's through 1982.  The last prison farm was White Hall
in Camp Hill which had the infamous riots in 1989 after being renamed as
Camp Hill Correctional Institution.  I met a man who received his training
in running construction equipment at White Hall.  He told me that the last
of the huge tractors and trucks that had been used to farm and transport the
food stuff were buried in 1984.  He lived in Fulton County where I did at
the time.  The AFCSME union took over the unionizing of the state workers
about 1984.  The federal laws were making it very difficult for any work to
be done by the prisons that would interfere with the sale of goods by union
labor to state facilities.  In 1988 the election of Gov. Casey sealed the
end of truly rehabilitative activities in our prisons.  I realize that
states like Georgia used prison labor in chain gangs and it was horrid but
the state was provided with the needs of the state offices through the
prison industry which did rehab people to some extent.  White Hall is
supposed to have had a cannery also.

Now the taxes go up and Jesse Jackson says that it costs more to send a guy
to Attica than to Harvard according to one quote I read in a Criminal
Justice text.

This is an IDEA that is making the rounds again (having prisoners work in
some sort of farm setting.  Make sure that it is not done with evil
intentions and Amnesty International may give out awards to USA Prisons
rather than dis them as being the American Gulag.

Helen Steely
Hbg., Pa.
(graduate of the Shippensburg Univ. Criminal Justice undergrad program)

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