Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases, Texas' El Paso County is paying prison inmates $2 an hour to move the bodies of deceased victims of the disease. Prison labor is a common practice across the U.S., but the reliance on inmates to handle the task of moving the corpses of COVID-19 victims is raising questions about the ethics of such work.
While the 13th Amendment outlawed slavery in 1865, it includes one exception: People who are "duly convicted" of a crime. Because of that exception, prisoners can be paid nothing for their labor — and in fact, there are five states, including Texas, where regular prison jobs are unpaid.
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