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What are ten reasons why prisoners should be allowed to form unions?

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Whether the state should allow prisoners to join labor unions has been under review since at least 1977, when North Carolina prisoners failed in their attempt to win the right to solicit prisoners to join their union and to hold union meetings.

Legally, the biggest argument in favor of unions in prisons is that prisoners are no longer viewed by the court as slaves of the state. They should retain all the rights of an ordinary citizen bar those that have been taken away from them due to their crimes. Morally and intellectually, there are many more. Below are three examples.

Firstly, prisoners are often making products for people outside the prison system. Therefore, the state should do all they can to ensure that working conditions are good enough for prisoners to maintain the quality needed. They can only really achieve this in the long term by addressing the prisoners' own concerns. To paraphrase a saying, a good prisoner is a happy prisoner.

This last point links directly to the importance of motivation. Any person, in prison or not, has to have some kind of positive motivational factor in order to work well. Unmotivated workers can be idle and troublesome.

Secondly, according to War on Want, a unionized workplace can reduce accidents and other incidents by up to fifty percent. This is particularly important in a prison environment, where tensions between inmates can run high.

Thirdly, it would be one of the only ways prisoners could legally and safely address problems of discrimination and violence. Just imagine how in a hierarchical system like a prison, people would naturally want to suppress anyone wanting to speak out.

These are some ideas to get you going. To find more reasons, it is best to think along the lines of how unions will improve the behavior and conditions of prisoners and prepare them to reenter the outside world.

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