ethecon launches new campaign:
Stop exploitation of prisoners!

Inspired by the work of the International ethecon Blue Planet Award winner of 2011, the American civil and human rights activist Angela Davis, ethecon - Foundation Ethics & Economics opposes the ever increasing exploitation of prisoners. Large corporations in particular benefit both from the work of prisoners and the privatization of prisons. While this is still primarily a U.S. phenomenon, subjecting prisons to exploitation and profit is increasingly being copied globally. In Germany, too, „reforming“ the prison system in this way is being debated.

In the U.S., large corporations such as Microsoft, IBM and Boeing discovered long ago an exceptional opportunity to maximize their profits. They can produce at a minimum cost in prisons. The prisoners usually receive only a small wage, sometimes none. Additional costs such as health care or special workplace protection are dispensed with. Instead, these companies enjoy additional tax benefits for employing prisoners. Usually, these activities have nothing to do with meaningful integration of prisoners into the labor market after their release. Rather, this exploitation of labor behind prison walls pushes down the wages of the total workforce and destroys ordinary jobs en masse.

„This ruthless exploitation of prisoners is nothing more than a modern form of slavery,“ said ethecon chair Axel K÷hler-Schnura. „The prisoners are being robbed of their basic rights and dignity. In prison, their control and repression are total.“ For example, the inmates have no right to organize to get adequate pay or better working conditions. Nor is there a right to strike. If they refuse to work, the prison imposes its penalties.

At the same time, the prisons and the inmates have been turned into a source of income and profits through the privatization of prisons themselves. Prison companies like the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) in the United States gain access to public money for each prisoner they hold. CCA maximizes its profits not only by massive overcrowding, but amongst other things by providing poor health care for prisoners, which has already led to deaths. Further scandals have arisen through documented cases of neglectful supervision by the guards, who did not intervene in violent clashes among prisoners. These are clear signs that public oversight has been eroded by privatization.

Prison inmates are the most marginalized group of the population. Far from the eyes of the public, their living and working conditions usually remain hidden -- unless a scandal erupts that is so big that it can no longer be kept secret. A society ought to be judged by whether and how well human rights are guaranteed to its marginalized members.

„The CCA‚s lobbying efforts are particularly scandalous,“ said Bettina Schneider, Managing Director of ethecon. To bring into effect tougher laws and higher penalties for convictions, the firm spent more than $2.7 million between 2006 and 2008 alone. This lobbying is neither about the rehabilitation of offenders nor the protection of society; its aim is only to secure and increase CCA‘s profits. Last year CCA achieved a sales revenue turnover of $1.7 billion, and it is projected to rise still further. At the same time, the United States is top of the list in the world by far when it comes to the ratio of prisoners per total population.

ethecon is informing the public about this campaign through a flyer and by collecting signatures and voicing protest online. The opportunities for protest can be found in the download or in the campaigns page on the homepage www.ethecon.org.

The ethecon Foundation is best known for the annual award of its International ethecon Blue or Black Planet Award in Berlin. The ethecon positive prizes in recent years honored Diane Wilson / USA (2006), Vandana Shiva / India (2007), JosÚ Abreu and Hugo Chavez / Venezuela (2008), Uri Avnery / Israel (2009), Elias Bierdel / Austria (2010) and Angela Davis / USA (2011). The ethecon negative prizes, on the other hand, reviled managers and shareholders of the corporations MONSANTO / USA (2006), NESTL╔ / Switzerland (2007), Blackwater (Xe) / USA (2008), Formosa Plastics Group / Taiwan (2009), BP / Britain (2010 ) and TEPCO / Japan 2011.

This year the positive price goes to the Swiss globalization critic and author Jean Ziegler. The negative award goes to the CEO Ivan Glasenberg and other leaders of the Commodity Group GLENCORE. The presentation of the International ethecon prizes take place in a public ceremony at the annual ethecon conference on Saturday, November 17, at Pfefferberg in Berlin. The event starts at 2:00 p.m. in the Great Hall („blue room“) at Sch÷nhauser Allee 176 and. It is free, but registration is required due to the great interest in the event.

Professor Ziegler will attend the ceremony and accept the prize in person. The maligned GLENCORE managers and major shareholders will receive the award later during public actions in cooperation with international social movements.

In contrast to many corporate, family, church, political and state foundations, ethecon is one of the few foundations run „from below.“ It and its current 31 donators, guided by the motto, „For a world without exploitation and oppression!“ carry out their responsibility to future generations. This young foundation is funded through gifts, donations and memberships.

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