Stop exporting prison labor

In one of the more unexpected turns of events in this all-politics-is-local world, Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson offered to send inmates to the southern United States to help build the border wall proposed by the administration. Yes, that means forced prison labor.

As I learned earlier this year from a discussion with Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, there may actually be defensible reasons to send inmates across state borders for labor assignments. Disaster recovery in neighboring New England states came to mind. But building a wall along the Rio Grande? That’s hard to countenance.

Today, I wrote a letter to the heads of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security in support of Senate bill, S1279, an Act Protecting Inmate Safety and the Expenditure of State Funds. With certain exceptions, the bill would restrict sheriffs’ ability to transport inmates outside Massachusetts for work assignments. This was part of a campaign organized by Indivisible Somerville timed to coincide with a hearing that’s taking place today.

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