This Note provides a critique on the current system of prison labor through the lens of the California wildfires and the lack of inmate labor due to early release in the wake of COVID-19. This Note provides an overview of the relevant history of the Thirteenth Amendment, contextualizes mass incarceration as a product of the “War on Drugs” in the United States, and consequently, discusses the significant and dramatic expansion of the prison industrial complex and the use of prison labor as a growing source of production labor. It concludes with a recommendation for a provisional back-end abolition model that provides relief for any inmate who completes prison labor. This includes both those who are currently incarcerated, and those who have already been released. The relief is meant to go beyond the measures currently implemented on the front-end and to complement the prison abolition movement.



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