The goal of this study will be to research historic and ongoing inequities centered around the role prison labor has played in developing Florida’s Forest Service, developing seeds and growing orchards, and conserving large tracts of land for both recreation and state-run forestry logging operations throughout the south and the United States. Contextualizing this within larger understandings of environmental justice intersections with the prison industrial complex.
Florida has an incarceration rate of 833 people per 100,000 people. Prisoners in Florida are disproportionally black due to unfair policing and treatment from the criminal justice system. The population of black inmates in Florida is approximately 49% even though the population of black people in the state is only 16%. This portrays the disparity of the imprisonment of black people in Florida.
I will be partnering with the University of Miami to conduct a research study on the connection between environmental justice (EJ) and prison labor in the state of Florida. The literature on environmental justice is well established but has paid little attention to prisons. I hope to investigate whether there are evidence prisons are subject to harsh and horrific labor conditions. Florida is a state utilizing prisoner labor as a method of gaining cheap labor and powering the economy of the state.