Convict Labor; Shades of Nazi Germany?

Essay by dhdallasUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, February 2004

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David H. Dallas (author)

Dr. Karen Smith

English 111: Writing II

October 20, 2003

Convict Labor; Shades of Nazi Germany

Human rights violations are an unfortunate part of history and have been well documented throughout the ages. Some of the most heinous abuses happen behind prison walls and closed factory doors where convicts are forced to labor under horrific conditions. Most people are aware that Nazi Germany systematically mistreated prisoners and used them as forced laborers. One wonders how a civilized and cultured German citizenry could allow such atrocities to occur.

Unfortunately the violation of human rights did not end with the defeat of Nazi Germany. Around the globe, people are still imprisoned, abused, and forced into labor, often for private industry. In the next few pages, we will examine current practices of prison-industrial abuses that still occur. The New York Times recently profiled such a place:

Behind a high metal fence lies a workplace that is part Dickens and part Darwin, a dim, dirty, hellishly hot place where men are regularly disfigured by amputations and burns, where turnover is so high that convicts are recruited from local prisons, where some workers urinate in their pants because their bosses refuse to let them step away from the manufacturing line for even a few moments.

(Barstow and Bergmann 1)

This stands as a chilling testimonial of man's inhumanity to man. What modern country would allow such conditions to exist? Shockingly the answer is the United States! David Barstow and Lowell Bergmann paint a grim portrait of labor abuses at Tyler Pipe Co. in Tyler Texas in their New York Times series entitled "Dangerous Business".

McWane, Inc., the parent company of Tyler Pipe, has shown absolute disregard for fundamental human rights. They have barred worker access to safety equipment, withheld...