NY lawmakers propose higher minimum wage for prison inmates

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A new bill introduced in the New York State Senate would require inmates in the state be paid a minimum wage for work performed as part of work release or residential treatment facility programs.

The bill, titled “The Prison Minimum Wage Act” requires that all inmates be paid at least $3.00 an hour for work performed or work for which a wage would otherwise be paid if the worker were not an inmate.

On average, inmates in New York state prisons earn approximately $0.52 an hour; some earn as little as $0.10. States such as Nevada, Alaska, Maine, and Kansas already have a requirement for inmates to be paid $3.00 an hour.

The minimum wage rules would take effect 180 days after the bill is signed into law.

The bill says the new rules are meant “to end the last vestiges of slavery and embrace the spirit and the promise of the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution by providing a minimum wage of $3.00 an hour to inmates.”

The Prison Minimum Wage Act was introduced by Senator Zellnor Myrie (D – 20), and co-sponsored by Sen. Jamaal T. Bailey (D – 36), Sen. Jessica Ramos (D – 13), Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D, WF – 34), and Sen. Julia Salazar (D – 18). On February 4, it was referred to the Committee on Crime Victims, Crime, and Correction.

Senator George Amedore (R,C,IP – 36) released a statement Friday opposing the bill.

“At a time when everyday New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet, when our direct care workers who provide care for the most vulnerable aren’t making a living wage, and towns and villages throughout the state are having critical funding stripped, to say this idea is misguided in an understatement,” said Sen. Amedore in his statement.”

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Empire State Weekly

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