Farmers Could Get Convicted Felon Labor

If a bill proposed in the Idaho Legislature becomes law, Idaho farmers could get a chance to pay minimum wages to prison inmates instead of paying higher wages to attack workers.
Red delicious apples hang from a tree branch in Canyon County, Idaho. red apple, apple, fruit, produce, apple tree, tree, orchard, grow, agriculture, food, red delicious, canyon county, idaho
“This would help us make sure we get our perishable Idaho crops harvested” in the event of worker shortages, said Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, the bill’s author.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all get inmate labor for landscape work, excavation, general cleanup, and other jobs subject to “labor shortages.” Instead of just farmers, places like Micron and small businesses should be able to hire assembly line workers from the prison.

No need to build plants in China to get cheap labor when you can get inmates to do the job. They wouldn’t need housing or health benefits because the state provides this for inmates. CAPITAL PRESS has a detailed story.

A benefit if hiring inmates, if they don’t perform well, they get locked up!

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Keep in mind the Prisoners would not get the full wages at all even though minum wage but a minut part as the State will keep the majority of it.
    Inmates do need stay busy and active so I’m not against this but if anyone thinks it’s a free job on both ends then rethink on it.
    What would be more beneficial in the end is inmates could do their own gardens once more to provide their groceries and meals instead of the garbage they are given with little to know value mandated by the IDOC to cut cost. Yes, they have havasted potatoes and donated to the Pantry’s however even these would be Real food to inmates. Why not carrots cabbage. It’s not like they don’t have land out there.

  2. Rod in SE Boise
    Mar 7, 2014, 5:46 pm

    This is a joke, right? It’s April 1st, isn’t it?

  3. Grumpy ole Guy
    Mar 7, 2014, 7:51 pm

    Rizo has, I think hit the rehabilitation nail squarely on the head. Why not use prison labor to raise food for the incarcerated, and, if at all feasible, for others in need as determined by either State or Federal programs (WIC, School Lunch, Hospitals, etc. )

  4. AKA… “21st century slave labor.”

  5. Dave, please tell us this is a joke.

    Rizo is correct about the amount of wages that the individuals get to keep. A few years ago state prisoners who worked the fire lines for the forrest service got to keep a whooping $.45 per hour. It is hard to tell what IDOC kept most likely $12-$13 an hour.
    Who gets to decide if labor is unavailable, the farmers? If this passes wages for farm laborers in this state will be effectively capped at minimum wage. I am sure that if good ole Symms was willing to pay a decent wage to get his fruit picked he would have had people applying. If this is allowed to pass it will be a snow ball fruit farmers will be first, then dairies, then ranchers. All the while the profit margins of the farmers will sky rocket.
    You are right when you say Micron, Wal-mart, Albertsons, ect. ect. businesses that right now will not hire anyone with any type of criminal record will be clamoring to jump on the band wagon. Minimum wage no benefits, no workmanans comp ect. all the while the states unemployment rates will climb costing the tax payers in the end.

    I for one wonder when the government is going to stop subsidizing farmers? This welfare for farmers has gone on for over fifty years. People who run businesses need to understand that the more people you put out of work the less people you have to buy your goods. I guess it does not matter though… as long as the profit margins keep going up… until they don’t. I wonder what will happen that day…. When there is no more slave labor, and make no mistake the minimum wage at least the $7.25 paid in Idaho is slave labor. No more cuts in expenses… then what. Oh I forgot people like Symms will have their millions… even more millions than they already have…. and the rest who cares… “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” as someone said.

  6. Good prisons already have farm operations. 🙂

    FYI The Botanical Garden employs and pays women from the minimum security correctional facility.

    It is a win-win-win situation.

  7. your right its a win, win… The farmer wins… he doesn’t have to worry about paying above minimum wage…ever….

    IDOC wins because they get too keep about $6.50 of the $7.25 paid for labor…

    and the rest of us loose… but as long as the poor millionaire farmer gets his.. and the govt gets theirs… it’s a good thing…. right?

  8. Rizo, there has to be some sort of program… even the Boise VA has a convicted drug felon working in a supervisory position.

  9. I don’t understand why this hasn’t been done years before. It seems like people complain about how manual labor jobs are simply minimum wage, illegal immigration is rampant in farm labor, and the price of corn is going up. Do you think maybe it’s because the same people sitting around complaining are refusing to do such hard work for such a small pay check? And think logically here folks….if the cost of labor goes up the cost of food goes up.
    Maybe instead of caging grown men all day we give them some hard work to do that might instill some ethics and/or very cheap job training so we don’t have to keep inflating the IDOC budget. Also I can imagine the “gladiator school” would be less effective if people were so tired from working all day that they couldn’t fight. Also if the inmates worked the fields, probably would have less of a problem for illegal immigration and maybe the inmates could pay back some of their restitution they probably owe a victim.

  10. Jake, then let’s open it up to any business. Not just another form of welfare for millionaire farmers they get enough of that already. You brought up a very good point, there are people setting around refusing to do the work for the wage that people like Symms are willing to pay. If they (the farmer) were willing to pay a decent wage for the work preformed they would not have a problem finding people to pick their crops.

    Let’s make no mistake the price of corn is going up because of the price of fuel and the farmers need to insure that their profit margin keeps rising, not the cost of labor. Since they are not I say let it rot on the tree, vine, or in the ground, do not subsidize these guys one more dime. Pay a decent wage and you will get workers, don’t tell me your hurting while you live in a multimillion dollar house, drive a $50k truck and your wife and kids drive $30k to $50k cars.

    I saw this time and time again as a kid growing up in the Midwest. The farmers would spend the day in the café drinking coffee and playing cards, complaining that they couldn’t make it if the new farm bill did not get passed. Then at the end of their grueling day they would go get in their brand new pickup and go home. The rich kids I graduated with were all the kids of farmers, it was true then and it’s even more true now.
    How are we going to insure that these millionaires will not request inmate labor to fill jobs that no one else is willing to do? The state will have to create positions for people to monitor the job listings that people like Symms cannot fill, or are we going to just take the farmers word for it?

    You are right about giving the inmates something to do to keep them from fighting, I couldn’t agree more. I have another idea, how about we change the mind set of locking everyone up. There was a story in the paper not long ago about an individual who is doing 3 years in the pen for a DWP (driving without privileges). How about we introduce just a little intelligence into the system, it would not take much of a change to make a huge difference.

    As to your comment about using the money for restitution, I can agree with that too. First we need to keep the IDOC from taking the vast majority of the wages the inmate works for.

  11. I like Ricks comment above.
    it’s a good point… pay enough and you will find workers. Farm work kinda sucks cause it’s usually hot and body intensive and seasonal. That needs a pretty good wage.

    And then we will pay more in our food prices. I’m okay with that too.

    Either grow it yourself or pay the real market price to pay someone else to grow it. Or eat less. 🙂

  12. Jake, it has been proven that the biggest factor in “the gladiator school” is the guards. I am sure the Philip Zimbardo would be shocked by what guards in most prisons and jails do and get away with. Our CJ system is nothing more than a university teaching those inside how to do more crimes.

  13. Easterner, you are right… it will raise prices a little.. the big farmers will have to maintain their double digit profit margins. Greed is the biggest detractor we are facing in todays world.

    I should not bag on Mr. Symms I do not know him from Adam but, I do know that businesses set a target profit margin and do what ever they can to meet or exceed it then do the same thing next year with a bigger margin.

    This state has one of the lowest average wages in the country when compared to the cost of living. When I lived in NM I made $20 an hour.. and only paid $60k for a place on 4 acres with full horse facilities.

    Here youll make $12 an hour and a comparable place will cost at least $150k makes no sense. 60% of the income 250% of the expenses.

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: