Berkeley student government calls prison labor ‘modern slavery’

The student government at the University of California – Berkeley (CAL) passed a resolution last month that would divest their organization from companies involved in the “United States Prison Industrial Complex” including McDonalds, American Express, and Microsoft.

UC Berkeley's student government compared prison labor to slavery in a divestment bill last month.

“Prisoners are forced into cheap labor where they have been reported to be earning as little as 23 cents an hour, creating conditions that are a manifestation of modern day slavery,” reads Senate Bill (S.B.) 100.

“Investing in these aforementioned companies makes the ASUC [Associated Students at University of California] complicit in perpetuation of the previously-mentioned form of modern slavery,” it continues.

The resolution, which passed 17-1, listed American Express, Microsoft, and McDonalds as companies allegedly profiting off the labor of prisoners.

According to the resolution, ASUC currently has $127,990 invested in companies profiting from the prison industrial complex.

The student senator who sponsored the bill declined to provide a comment to Campus Reform, despite multiple requests.

S.B. 100 also cited statistics from an unknown source regarding the number of minorities who are incarcerated, appearing to imply the American justice system harbors racist sentiments.

The numbers cited appear to be consistent with the latest data from the Department of Justice (DOJ), however, the resolution neglects to note that the data from the DOJ also showed that prison rates have been on the decline.

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Oliver Darcy
Oliver Darcy | Former Reporter

Oliver Darcy is the former editor of digital media for Campus Reform, where he was tasked with reporting on waste, fraud, and abuse taking place on our nation's college campuses. Additionally, he was responsible for editing the website’s video content and graphic design. Prior to joining the Leadership Institute, Oliver founded, a video driven website dedicated to exposing the inherent failures found at the core of liberal philosophies. He is currently Oliver holds his bachelors of arts degree in political science, with an emphasis in both International Relations and American Politics, from the University of California at Merced.

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