The economics behind the prison strike: An inmate’s guide to earning 24 cents per hour
Salon by Michael Fischer
August 31, 2018
When I first heard about the incarcerated workers strike last week, I went to my closet and dug out some old paperwork. I still have my payroll receipts from Livingston Correctional Facility, a medium-security state prison where I served time for a nonviolent crime. When I was released from there in 2015, I left almost everything behind. I gave away my plastic bowl and my blanket, a couple cans of black beans. But I took my payroll receipts with me. They serve as a reminder of what New York State thinks I’m worth.
... It’s strange how deeply mere numbers can cut. I did my best to hold my head up when the state took away my name and replaced it with six numbers and a letter. I often stare at the dates on the calendar and tell myself I can make it to the end of each month. But the paltry amounts trickling into my commissary account settle on my shoulders in a way I can’t shake off. Of all the ways prison seeks to diminish my self-respect — strip searches, supervised urine tests — this is the one that sticks. ...
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