One of Alabama's largest farming
operations is run by the state prison system

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Taoss - Sherry Swiney
To: PATRICK Crusade 
Sent: Sunday, August 03, 2003 9:49 PM
Subject: What prisoners do for society and what they get in return

This is in response on the article regarding the prisoners working the farms in Alabama.  To me, it is slavery called a different name.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Jean
To: Sherry
Sent: Sunday, August 03, 2003 9:35 PM
Subject: Misc.


The more I think about these guys working for 25 cents an hour the more annoyed I get.  If they were given decent food and medical care perhaps one could understand to a degree.  No one expects them to be paid what a large company would pay but this is outrageous since they are so mistreated in every basic way.

My friend's son could use medical attention but the hassle is not worth it.  He has to wait forever only to be told to return and has to pay for each visit.  He said the box the food comes in is labeled, "not fit for human consumption."  This and 25 cents an hour is just more than I can stomach.

Plus, look at all the fruit growing places around here.  I wonder if they ever donate any?  If they did, wonder if the inmates would be the beneficiaries? 

Thanks for all you  have done to help everyone.I do not know how you do it but God has certainly blessed you with determination and ability.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: Jean
To: Sherry 
Sent: Sunday, August 03, 2003 6:44 PM
Subject: Info

The attached document is by Gary Mitchell, one of the names on Investigative Journalist doc sent to you previously.

The article seemed rather favorable-looking for DOC and some of their policies and procedures regarding farming products.

Noticed Corbett mentioned FEDERAL LAWS and I wonder if this is legal for Alabama State Laws; sent message to Mitchell asking but he has not replied.

Frankly, anything these people say is suspect for me.

By Garry Mitchell, Montgomery Advertiser - 7/26/03

One of Alabama's largest farming operations is run by the state prison system. 

Inmates raise crops and catfish and tend livestock, generating about $2 million in revenue last year for running prisons and paying salaries. The inmates are paid 25 cents an hour. 

About $190,000 in revenue came from the prison system's tomato crop last year. About 17,000 pounds of tomatoes per acre were produced on 24 acres of prison land in Elmore County, Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett

This year, they've expanded to 40 acres, adding acreage near the prison in Limestone County. 

Chu Farms of Wimauma, Fla., near Tampa, has a contract with the prison system for the tomatoes, Corbett said. He said the contract is based on productivity and the wholesale value of the tomatoes, which changes daily. Chu buys the entire crop, he added. 

"The tomatoes are brokered at wholesale value and Chu Farm gets 10 percent of that," Corbett said. 

Minimum-security inmates work a 12-hour shift in the fields, getting an hour for lunch and 15-minute breaks in the morning and afternoon, according to prison policy. 

Corbett said some inmates voluntarily work longer hours just to stay out of the cell and earn extra money. If they work longer hours, he said, they are paid for it. 

Lucia Penland, director of the Montgomery-based Alabama Prison Project, said her organization has not received any complaints about inmate labor abuses. She said complaints are more about medical care. 

Andy Farquhar, director of Alabama Correctional Industries, said he contacts farming companies about prison crops when he meets them at agricultural conferences and other events. For example, he said he met the head of Chu Farms while in Tennessee at a conference. 

The prison system is interested in expanding it's "moneymaking options, mainly in the service area," while staying away from interstate commerce, Corbett said. 

"Agricultural goods are not considered manufactured goods under federal law," Corbett said. That makes it legal for the prison system to sell and ship the crops. 

Last year was the first year for the Alabama prison system to sell its tomato crop to a private vendor, Corbett said, but he said the prison system long has been in the business of selling its harvest of peas, corn, squash, cattle, hogs, catfish and various other crops.