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Re: [GreenYes] Atwater Prison electronic recycling - Modesto Bee Article
- Subject: Re: [GreenYes] Atwater Prison electronic recycling - Modesto Bee Article
- From: Ted Smith <email@example.com>
- Date: Thu, 03 Jan 2002 16:19:14 -0800
I'm glad to see that this little nugget about maximum
security prison recycling has provoked some good comments. I agree
with Van, Helen, and David Wood. In addition, I'm very concerned
that prison recycling will further undercut and retard the development of
domestic recycling infrastructure and shift the focus away from producer
responsiblity. And I don't think that Dell, Compaq, etc are going
to want to have their brand names connected with the growing prison
industry. I can just see Michael Dell proclaiming that Dell
Computer can't afford to take back and recycle its computers, so they're
relying on the taxpayer supported prison industry to provide a
subsidy! Talk about externalization of costs!!
While I understand the argument that job training is a good thing for
people behind bars, the maximum security prisoners at Atwater
Federal Prison are not likely to get out in the near future to put these
new "skills" to work. In addition, prison labor is not
covered by OSHA rules and other civilian "niceties", so the
hazards of computer recycling are not likely to get any attention,
either. The US would be screaming bloody murder if China (or some
other country) were using prison labor to compete on the global
marketplace (which does happen). I think it is important to link
human rights issues with our environmental and health concerns -- it's
not only the "right thing to do" -- it will help us to build
more allies in the struggles ahead (we certainly need all that we can
get!). I Think that this is a very rich area for
At 11:57 AM 1/3/2002 -0800, Van Calvez wrote:
agree with Helen's comments.
One other point: I doesn't seem right to
lump prison labor and handicapped labor into the same discussion.
They are different issues.
- ----- Original Message -----
- From: Helen Spiegelman
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2002 9:46 AM
- Subject: RE: [GreenYes] Atwater Prison electronic recycling -
Modesto Bee Article
- Atwater/UNICOR raises a cluster of interesting issues that others
have touched on. Here's my read:
Prisoners (and handicapped) providing 'low cost' labour:
- Prisoners (and handicapped) providing 'low cost' labour.
- Companies brokering prisoners' labour for profit.
- Recycling as a community/government responsibility.
- Is producer responsibility 'largesse'?
- Recycling as local economic development.
- Dells and Compaqs setting up 'centralized infrastructure'
It makes sense that *work* be part of a prisoner's
The work should be meaningful to optimize the rehabilitation
However, prisoner labour should not be traded in the marketplace.
It competes unfairly with non-prisoner labour, distorts labour market so
that demand for prison labour increases (hence incentive to incarcerate
Prisoner/handicapped labour should be used for *work in public interest*,
rather than for profit.
What's wrong with making license plates? maybe wildlife rescue? or even
Companies brokering prisoners' labour for profit
I don't like it: living off the avails
This is a much more fundamental issue than whether UNICOR's services are
Recycling as *work in the public interest*
Here again is the traditional confusion over whether recycling is an
activity carried out 'in public interest'.
It is not the public/community that benefits from recycling.
It is the Dells and Compaqs and their consumers who avoid responsibility
by passing it on to the community.
Recycling, like other environmental requirements, should be part of the
cost of doing business.
Would you like to Ford/Dell/Compaq use prison labour for its assembly
lines? Safeway for its checkout lines?
Why should we tolerate using prison labour for recycling?
Recycling should be an extension of marketing of products, not a
public clean-up project.
When Dells and Compaqs have to figure out what to do with old computers,
they will compete to provide best service for lowest cost (once the Green
Dot monopoly is finally broken...)
Is producer responsibility 'largesse'?
Absolutely not! No more so than compliance with any other
Largesse is charity. The environment cannot be left as a charity
IMHO one of the things wrong with these times is that corporations are
given the discretion on which environmental responsibility to take:
hence, they throw PR dollars at America Recycles Day/Keep America
Beautiful but fight deposit laws and EPR.
If they have this much $ to throw around, they should not complain about
internalizing environmental/social costs now passed on to
Recycling as local economic development.
When it's public sector economic activity, this is false
Comparable to the growth in GDP that came from clean-up of Exxon
Dells and Compaqs setting up 'centralized infrastructure'
If we can tolerate 'centralized infrastructure' (I think you mean
ownership) for production, distribution and retailing, why are we
suddenly resisting it for recycling?
IMHO, centralized ownership of any of these market activities is the
If we want to be consistent we will question it in all areas, not just
At 10:41 AM 01/03/2002 -0600, David Wood wrote:
should weigh in too, if he is able to, but the Computer TakeBack Campaign
platform opposes prison labor because we want the infrastructure for
electronics recycling to promote local economic development one of the
historic benefits of recycling. In the same vein, though we want brand
owners and manufacturers to take full responsibility for the life cycle
of their products, we d prefer that the Dells and Compaqs of the world
not control some centralized infrastructure but rather use their largesse
to promote a more decentralized infrastructure with attendant local
economic development benefits.
Additionally and I speak only
for myself here moving industrial operations to America s prison system
legitimates the backwards policies of three-strikes and mandatory minimum
sentencing because we can then give those people jobs. Why not keep out
of prison in work programs many of those whose crimes may not warrant
incarceration, providing them job training in local economic development
opportunities that are sustainably recycling our tidal wave of high tech
trash (probably at lower labor costs, if they are trainees in a criminal
On Behalf Of Steen, Terri - Contractor
Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2002 8:37 AM
To: 'Ted Smith'; email@example.com
Subject: RE: [GreenYes] Atwater Prison electronic recycling - Modesto
I read the article about
the new computer recycling facility at the Federal prison, and checked
out the UNICOR web site as well. While admittedly short on
statistical data, I assume since the project is not yet operational, the
premise seems reasonable.
I agree we need
guidelines for sustainable recycling practices (and decorative clocks
will probably not be high on that list), but labor costs are one of the
biggest drawbacks to disassembly and sorting of electronics, right?
And prison labor & (pausing to collect thoughts) may be the best
solution to that particular economic problem. UNICOR provides a lot
of support to the Federal government and as far as I know their products
and services are competitively priced and of reasonable quality.
The government is obligated to use the services of disabled persons as
well as prison labor, which helps keep costs down (and etc.).
Which aspect of the
project did you find alarming? Is there more information available
than that one rather short article?
Other comments or
opinions out there?
From: Ted Smith
Sent: Wednesday, January 02, 2002 1:44 PM
Subject: [GreenYes] Atwater Prison electronic recycling - Modesto Bee
Here is an article about a new maximum security Federal Prison opening in
California that some see as the "final solution" to computer
recycling. I find it rather alarming! Another reason why we
must develop guidelines for sustainable recycling practices.
Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition/Campaign for Responsible Technology
760 N. First Street,San Jose, CA 95112
Food for thought: How Gandhi Defined the Seven Deadly Sins
· Wealth without work; · Pleasure without conscience; · Knowledge
without character;· Commerce without morality;
· Science without humanity;· Worship without sacrifice;· Politics without
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