Wages go down. Prices go up!
The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” – Albert Camus
In a telephone chat with one of my friends behind bars the other day, the topic of prisoner pay came up once again. He has certain MDOC certifications that entitle him to a slightly higher pay rate for certain jobs. But, he was transferred to a facility that doesn’t recognize those certifications. He’ll have to settle for the lower pay.
I was discussing the topic with a former prisoner, and he shared a similar story where, upon transfer, the people at the new facility wouldn’t pay the rate that he had been receiving for years at the old facility.
Keep in mind, now, that these prison people aren’t doing their best to balance the prison budget. They’re doing their best to be unkind to the residents of that facility.
This week I received a message from one of the prison dog handlers. “Well, the buggers went ahead and cut the maintenance, upholstery, and all dog handlers' pay. We were dropped to $1.54/day, meaning that at least for dog handlers we'll make $47.74 in a 31 day month. Guys are talking about quitting over the loss of roughly $60/month, but I'm not about to give up a pup even if they took all the pay away. Besides, there's nowhere else to hire in that makes much more, and a lot of other jobs that pay a heck of a lot less, like scrubbing bathrooms for 84 cents/day. Anyway, no reasons given as to why, but as the Department struggles to feed the monster they've created, it's obvious they're doing so at convicts' expense in chow, medical, and now employment. I'd ask, ‘What next?’ but am afraid of the answer!”
For the record, prisoner wages for the jobs that are available in Michigan facilities have not changed in decades. No one can remember when there was a pay raise. But, Pure Michigan doesn’t stop its inhumanity there. It continues to bump the prices in the prison store, so that small purchases such as snacks and personal hygiene items are darn near impossible.
I like President Reagan’s quote: Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man.
I finish ranting and raving about low prisoner pay, and then the office feeds me this short note from Lee: “The Dog Program gave me enough to be able to send this donation from my first job.” Enclosed was a check for $100.00 supporting the work of Humanity for Prisoners! Imagine a gift like that, while earning $1.54 a day! Talk about the widow’s mite.
I conclude with a note of optimism. This old news reporter has some confidential sources high up in the MDOC, and I’m hearing that we should watch for positive modification of prisoner pay scales. You heard it first here.
Meanwhile, keep prisoners in your prayers. They matter!