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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon
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March 2014
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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon [userpic]
Odd thought

I was just reading a random fic, wherein the author sets a scene in a prison that is growing it's own food to help defray costs. There was this caveat that local farmers couldn't complain about it because all the food was for the use of the prison.

And I thought, gee, I think being self sustaining th would be awesome, but excess should be used to feed the poor. In fact, putting prisoners to work for this purpose sounds fantastic to me. Thoughts, anyone?


If you're going to use prisoners for economic purposes, it doesn't seem like it would matter all that much what you have them doing: If they're producing something profitable, that can be sold for food or whatever: Just like ordinary businesses try to pick whatever's most profitable. So picking for self-sufficiencly probably isn't that critical, and security is probably a more significant constraint anyway.

There are some ethical hazards, though: Using prisoners as slave labor offers the the unpleasant possibility of deliberately finding more prisoners, to exploit for the labor. (Germany experimented with such a system...) Even without that, there are corruption concerns (This was a plot point in the movie Shawshank Redemption.).

Ideally I'd prefer to see efforts made to reduce the need to lock people up, but some degree of self-support does seem like a good idea.

I am told that the old system in much of the South and MS in particular subscribed to the self-sufficiency paradigm--the prisoners raised vegetables, chickens, pigs and cattle, and even farmed cotton and sent it out to be transformed into, yes, prison uniforms.

Some prisons actually showed a profit from selling the excess.

Then the prison system in MS was taken over by liberals who decided that growing one's own food was "degrading"* and shut down the farm system. Now the prisoners sit in their cells idly rather than learning farming and husbandry, and don't even mention the tax dollars....

*Two problems with that statement, which I gather is a direct quote: one, someone please tell my mother that her gardening is degrading and to stop it at once. Two, it ain't a luxury resort--the inmates are generally there for a good reason. Why should convicts be enabled to lie around and watch cable on the tax dollars of thee and me when they could be defraying their keep?