Things That Matter

Would You Buy Prison–Made Clothes?

How would you feel if the clothes you bought were made in a prison, most likely by a Hispanic inmate?

Although it’s not a popular practice, it’s becoming more common worldwide including in countries like Peru, and the U.S. And since, the Hispanic population in this country is at 35 percent, according to the United States Sentencing Commission, it’s likely the clothes is being made by one of our own.

Some argue this practice is unethical because companies around the world are bringing in huge profits and paying inmates cents to a dollar an hour. The Federal Prison Industries (Unicor) is a federal enterprise with 78 manufacturing facilities around the country.

Inmates who work for Unicor make from 23 cents to $1.15 an hour making uniforms and bedding for the prison itself. Other companies, like U.S. Prison Blues, is a U.S. company that manufactures prison and fashion clothing in an Oregon prison. There commercial line includes denim, Ts and hats.

READ: This Prison is So Dangerous, Even the Guards Won’t Go In

The companies, however, argue this type of work allows the inmates to learn a skill they can use to find work once they’re released. Since this type of training takes money, the companies are essentially investing in rehabilitating the inmates.

“Don’t think that because people are in prison that they’re forgotten and that they’re useless to society,” says Jason Swettenham, head of public sector prison industries in England and Wales. “Because most of them have just done wrong and want to make amends and want a chance.”

Read more about how fashion companies around the world are setting up shop in prisons here.

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A Quinceañera Is One Of The Most Special Celebrations So This Mexican Prison Organized One So Moms Didn’t Miss Out

Things That Matter

A Quinceañera Is One Of The Most Special Celebrations So This Mexican Prison Organized One So Moms Didn’t Miss Out

InfoBae

One of the most emotionally taxing things for mothers and fathers that are incarcerated is missing their sons’ and daughters’ special moments. Graduations, first steps, heartbreaks, proms, soccer games and quinces: all of these are events that inmates generally experience behind bars through photos or tear-stained letters. All sense of normalcy vanishes when someone steps into a prison, and isolation can kick in and affect mental health. Depression and anxiety are common ailments in correctional facilities. 

So a recent initiative in a Mexican prison changed the lives of mothers whose daughters were about to have their quinces. This initiative helped strengthen family ties (which are precariously held when a loved one is serving a sentence) and surely lifted the spirits of mothers whose mistakes have also taken a toll on their loved ones. All in all, a great way to bridge reality inside and outside the prison. 

The prison of Santa Martha became a dance hall for an unforgettable quince.

Credit: InfoBae

Mexico City authorities and the NGO Alas de Amor (Wings of Love) organized a XV dance for daughters’ of female inmates at the Santa Martha Acatitla prison. There was a thanksgiving Catholic mass followed by a sit-down meal for families. We hope this is not the last time this event is organized and that correctional facilities elsewhere follow this example. 

Plenty of people pitched in so the young women could have a day to remember.

Flower shops from the world-famous Mercado de Jamaica donated the floral arrangements. Dancers from the studio Ballet Nuevo México acted as chambelanes for the traditional waltz. Before travelling to the prison, the festejadas gor their photo taken in front of the Antiguo Palacio del Ayuntamiento.

As EN24 reports: “This is the third year that this celebration takes place, and on this occasion merchants from La Lagunilla and the Tepito neighborhood, donated the dresses, shoes and accessories for the celebration.”

There is solidarity among el pueblo mexicano! After the party, they were taken around the city on one of Mexico City’s tourist buses. The progressive Mexico City government will likely promote this kind of events in the remaining five years of the current administration, led my Claudia Sheinbaum. 

And just look at that cake! Mordida, mordida, mordida!

With plenty of social stigma associated with inmates and their families, this was a great opportunity to make these women feel appreciated and for them to be able to regain their dignity, which surely has been manhandled during their journey through the judicial bureaucracy. After all, the prison system is supposed to work as an institution through which those who have made the wrong choices in life can get a second chance, but if prisons are hell on Earth then betterment can be tricky to say the least. 

It was a dreamy event in which mothers and daughters tightened their bond.

Teenage years are troubling and challenging for any young woman, and even more so if their mother is behind bars. One of the purposes of this initiative was to make sure that the emotional struggles of adolescence are lessened at least a little bit. Each young woman was allowed to invite ten external guests and five female inmates. It was a logistical challenge but for the third year in a row the outside world moved into the prison to provide a sense of normalcy to the inmates.  

And before you get all judgmental and say “well, criminals deserve what they got” you gotta know a little bit about the Mexican judicial system.

Credit: COHA

The Mexican judicial system is deeply flawed due to corrupt processes and to the fact that rather than someone being presumed innocent when they are arrested, they are presumed guilty and spend their time behind bars until their cases are resolved. Now, there is a decades-long bottleneck in the court system, which means that many of the inmates could potentially be innocent or have a waiting period behind bars that can end up being actually longer than the maximum sentence for the crime they were initially arrested for.

Added to this, Mexican jails are infamous for overpopulation, drug use, abusive guards and corruption. So before you get on your high horse give the inmates a break, shall we? Things are of course more complicated for female inmates as they are often abandoned to their own devices by associates whose modus operandi is to dispose of women in an abusive manner. The Mexican judicial system is also tough on women, as there is a social stigma that affects those who are arrested while being mothers. They are judged as malas madres and treated in a tough and sometimes cruel way by judges and authorities. 

Florida Is Moving To Deputize Prison Guards As ICE Agents In A Move That Will Terrorize The Community

Things That Matter

Florida Is Moving To Deputize Prison Guards As ICE Agents In A Move That Will Terrorize The Community

Unsplash

A federal advisory board in Florida has approved a measure to deputize state correctional offers as federal immigration agents. The state is now waiting on the “Memorandum of Agreement” from ICE to begin initiating the program. Republican Florida officials are enthusiastic about the new approach that will allow prison guards to profile inmates booked into prison to determine if they are undocumented immigrants. 

“(Corrections) Secretary Mark Inch has made great progress in his collaborative relationship with ICE and we are moving forward with this program,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement.

DeSantis has been cracking down on immigration and has been pushing for the program since April. Backed by Donald Trump, DeSantis is more than happy to imitate the administration’s rigid policies. 

DeSantis believes the program will be good for public safety.

“I believe public safety is important to maintain the best quality of life in our communities which is why I am extremely pleased that the Legislature gave me a sanctuary city bill I signed into law,” DeSantis said.

Florida has a sanctuary-city prohibition where law enforcement agencies are required to hold undocumented immigrants in custody for up to 48 hours if there is a detainer request from a federal agency. 

Five correctional officers will be trained by federal immigration authorities in the program. Democrats and immigrants rights groups believe the program will hurt immigrant communities not benefit public safety. 

“Turning our state employees into ICE agents at Florida taxpayer expense will not make our state safer,” said Casey Bruce-White, director of communications for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

Opponents believe the sanctuary-city ban will lead to racial profiling.

“The ACLU and other opponents argue, in part, that policies such as the sanctuary-city ban will force local governments to spend resources to do the job of federal immigration agents. Also, they say the policies could lead to racial profiling across the state,” according to the Miami Herald. 

Florida isn’t alone in its plan to deputize prison guards, the approval would make it the fourth state to implement such a program in state-run prisons. Arizona, Massachusetts, and Georgia are the three others with similar ICE contracts. State taxpayer money will be used to pay for the program as Florida will be responsible for covering the tab on all travel, housing, and per diem costs. 

Meanwhile, 14 county jails also work with ICE. The decision to use local law enforcement as ICE operatives has received the ire of South Miami Mayor Phillip Stoddard. 

“As soon as the community perceives the local police as agents of ICE, they stop talking to the local police, and that makes everybody less safe,” he told the Miami Herald. “Now, there will be a whole segment of our community unwilling to report crimes. It’s already the case in a lot of immigrant communities, and this makes it worse.”

Florida immigrants face soaring arrest rates.  

A new polarizing law implemented by DeSantis allows 18-year-olds to work as correctional officers as a way to correct the increasingly high turnover rate. In September, the Florida Department of Corrections officials asked lawmakers for roughly $90 million to address the staffing issue, calling the issue “exceptionally high turnover rates.” 

“Staffing at the department has reached critically low level, and many of the staff currently employed are extremely inexperienced,” agency officials wrote in the budget request. 

However, the Miami Herald noted that Florida sheriff’s offices were eager to participate in working with federal immigration agencies, perhaps the new program will have the same allure to interested parties. 

According to the Tampa Bay Times, since Trump launched his strict immigration policies, the detention of noncriminals has soared due to tens of thousands of immigrants with no convictions being arrested. Undocumented immigrants in Florida with no convictions are seven times higher to be arrested than under the Obama administration, the highest surge in the U.S. 

The Trump administration arrested 53,441 immigrants without records in a single year, three times the rate of the Obama administration, which focused on undocumented immigrants who committed serious crimes. 

In Florida, one in every five residents is an immigrant with roughly 4.1 million foreign-born individuals making up 20 percent of the population. Florida immigration lawyers believe racial profiling has run rampant in the state. Federal law allows immigration agencies to have jurisdiction within 100 miles of the border, and within that jurisdiction, they can arrest anyone without a warrant. Because Florida is surrounded by water on three sides, the entire state is within the jurisdiction. 

“I do respect the need for immigration laws and that they do need to be enforced. I know a lot of good federal agents at (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). But they’re being misdirected,” said Chad Brandt, attorney at Orlando’s Brandt Immigration, told the Tampa Bay Times. “We’re wasting those precious resources on people who are building houses and cleaning hotel rooms.”