The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

BOSTON (Reuters) – A Massachusetts county sheriff has proposed sending prison inmates from around the United States to build the proposed wall along the Mexican border that is one of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s most prominent campaign promises.

“I can think of no other project that would have such a positive impact on our inmates and our country than building this wall,” Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said at his swearing-in ceremony for a fourth term in office late Wednesday.

“Aside from learning and perfecting construction skills, the symbolism of these inmates building a wall to prevent crime in communities around the country, and to preserve jobs and work opportunities for them and other Americans upon release, can be very powerful,” he said.

Hodgson, who like Trump is a Republican, said inmates from around the country could build the proposed wall, described by Trump as a powerful deterrent to illegal immigration.

Trump, who will be sworn in on Jan. 20, insisted during his campaign that he would convince the Mexican government to pay for the wall, though Mexican officials have repeatedly said they would not do so.

Officials in the Trump transition office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The United States has a long history of prison labor, with advocates of the idea saying that putting inmates to work can help them learn skills that prepare them for their return to society after completing their sentences. Opponents contend that inmates are not fairly compensated.

The federal prisons system operates some 53 factories around the United States that produced about $500 million worth of clothing, electronics, furniture and other goods in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, according to its financial statements.

Still, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union in Massachusetts said Hodgson’s proposal could violate prisoners’ rights.

“The proposal is perverse, it’s inhumane and very likely unconstitutional,” ACLU staff counsel Laura Rotolo said in a phone interview. “It certainly has nothing to do with helping prisoners in Massachusetts or their families. It’s about politics.”

In response to a request by the Trump transition office, the Department of Homeland Security last month identified more than 400 miles (644 km) along the U.S.-Mexico border where new fencing could be erected, according to a document seen by Reuters.

The document contained an estimate that building that section of fence would cost more than $11 billion.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

IMAGE: A general view shows a newly built section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall at Sunland Park, U.S. opposite the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, November 9, 2016. Picture taken from the Mexico side of the U.S.-Mexico border. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez/File Photo

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

President Joe Biden

Photo by The White House

Two tiresome realities about being president of the United States: first, everybody blames you for things over which you have little or no control: such as the worldwide price of oil, and international shipping schedules. Should there be too few electronic gee-gaws on store shelves to pacify American teenagers this Christmas, it will be Joe Biden’s fault.

Second, everybody gives you advice, whether you ask for it or not. Everywhere you look, Democrats and Democratically-inclined pundits are tempted to panic. “The cold reality for Biden,” writes New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait “is that his presidency is on the brink of failure.” A return to Trumpism, and essentially the end of American democracy, strikes Chait as altogether likely.

Keep reading... Show less
x
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}