The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.62/No.20           May 25, 1998 
Work-Release Prisoners Join Tornado Solidarity Effort  
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - Workers behind bars joined the solidarity effort for tornado victims. Women prisoners at the Birmingham Community-Based Facility, a work-release center here, organized a collection among inmates that netted $137, which was then donated to the Red Cross.

The women in this jail - who work every day in local factories, restaurants, and offices - are paid the same wages as other employees in their workplace. But the prisoners receive a mere $45 out of each paycheck to cover their expenses, plus $140 a month to purchase clothes, work supplies, and other necessities. The State of Alabama takes 32.5 percent of their gross pay for "room and board," plus $4 a day for transportation to and from work. Those prisoners sentenced to pay "restitution" for conviction on theft charges have another 25 percent taken out of their weekly pay. What little remains of their check is deposited in an account they receive upon release from prison. Meanwhile, the state collects interest.

Even the $45 weekly stipend can be arbitrarily reduced to $20 if prison officials decide the inmates have "failed inspection" of their dormitories. Failing inspection means the workers get no $140 allotment that month for all other necessities. They also lose all weekend passes and family visitation rights.  
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