WVXU: Incarcerated workers should be taxed

UC Law professor discusses labor, taxation and benefits for incarcerated workers

How should incarcerated workers be compensated and should their wages be taxed are two questions UC Law professor Stephanie McMahon tackled during a recent segment of Cincinnati Edition on WVXU.

McMahon says there is plenty of debate about whether the 13th amendment which prohibits slavery should allow prison inmates to be forced to work. The language says they can be required to work but it is often in contradiction to what some people expect and some state constitutions. Of the 1.2 million people incarcerated in the U.S. two out of three are workers, reports the American Civil Liberties Union.

A 2022 ACLU study also found that incarcerated workers get between 13 cents and 52 cents per hour for their labor and that the government still takes up to 80% of their wages for room, board, legal costs and other expenses. McMahon argues that incarcerated workers should be fairly compensated and then taxed so they can earn access to the nation’s social safety net, which includes social security, the earned income tax credit and other benefits.  She explores this topic in her article Prison Work is Taxing and Should be Taxed.

McMahon is joined by Jennifer Turner, principal human rights researcher at the ACLU, and LaToya Bell, deputy director of the Ohio Justice & Policy Center.

Listen to the WVXU broadcast online.

Learn more about the work of Dr. Stephanie McMahon online.

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.

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