Ninth Circuit Okays 19 Cents Per Hour Pay

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit this morning rejected the notion that federal inmates who work must be paid "fair wages" or their constitutional rights are violated. 

The case arose after inmates argued that earning as low as 19 cents an hour for work trampled on the Fifth Amendment as well as the "United Nations Covenant on Prisoner Rights."

In upholding a lower court's decision to dismiss the lawsuit against the Bureau of Prisons, a puzzled three justice appellate panel noted that the UN document does not even exist.

"We conclude that prisoners have no enforceable right to be paid for their work under the Constitution or international law," wrote Judge Richard R. Clifton for the panel.

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Clifton went on the quote established law: "Where a person is duly tried, convicted, sentenced and imprisoned for crime in accordance with law, no issue of peonage or involuntary servitude arises."

Lompac Prison inmates J. Tony Serra, Jeanine Santiago and Victor J. Cordero had hoped to turn the case into a successful class action lawsuit on behalf of federal inmates nationwide.

Don't weep for them though.

They still get free taxpayer funded room and board.

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly

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