Nine inmates in El Paso County have been “hired” to aid in the transportation of patients who have died as a result of the coronavirus. They’re being paid an astounding $2 an hour for this less-than-desirable task.
Although prison labor is not uncommon, this particular kind is calling into question the ethics of such work. Chris Acosta, the public affairs director at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, claims that the inmates are “low-level offenders” and have been “provided full PPE by the morgue/hospital.”
El Paso is not having an easy time with the current spike in COVID-19 cases. Currently, they have over 1,100 patients in hospitals and 34,000 active cases. So yes, you could say they need all the help they can get. Even though the inmates’ work is completely voluntary, it somehow doesn’t quite sit well.
Eric Feigl-Ding, the senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, seems to share these sentiments.
Though slavery was outlawed back in 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment doesn’t include those convicted of a crime. Texas is one of the five states in America, actually, where prisoners are regularly left unpaid for their work. Jobs that aren’t performed for the prison pay anywhere between 14 to 63 cents an hour. Sheesh!!
Fortunately, El Paso has enlisted the help of the National Guard and they might soon be taking over for the inmates. It’s a daunting undertaking for sure – the number of hospitalized patients in the county has increased tenfold since September. It looks like this virus is not going anywhere anytime soon.
Speaking of Texas, check out this story about a Texan man shot by his own dog. It’ll take your mind off the pandemic for a hot second!