In 2014 a man incarcerated in the Alabama state prison system said he was reprimanded to solitary confinement for his work in the Free Alabama Movement (FAM). FAM has exposed human rights violations in the prison system through radio, news, and other communication. In the following interview with KGNU, Melvin Ray places himself at considerable risk when in the past he was stripped and removed from his cell into solitary confinement without clothes or bedding as a consequence for a similar action speaking about conditions. FAM continues to expose the multi-billion dollar industry of corporations using free or cheap labor for corporate profit and at taxpayer expense. In this interview Ray further describes the use of prison labor by large corporations such as McDonald’s and Walmart, thereby freeing the corporations from paying taxes including social security and unemployment insurance. Ray outlines how these savings to the corporations are paid by the general public through the taxes which maintain the prison industrial complex. He exposes how corporations lobby for tougher sentences in order to maintain their free labor pool that translates to higher profits.
Ray announces a National Call to Action to end Prison Slavery, Mass Incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline and is being led by Free Alabama Movement:
A rally is planned in Denver at the West Steps of the Capitol with guest speakers who will discuss Mass Incarceration, the driving forces and solutions, and then will march to a highly visible McDonald’s to protest the corporation’s use of prison labor.
Ray exposes McDonald’s for investing in “zero-tolerance” school policies and other laws that make it easier to target children for incarceration. He tells KGNU that once in prison, McDonald’s and other corporations then rely on prison authorities and policies to exploit prison slave labor from those they have incarcerated, “McDonald’s uses prison slave labor to produce their uniforms, beef for patties, milk, bread, and plastic spoons. McDonald’s builds factories in prisons to exploit prison slave labor, but won’t build these same factories in communities where people in prison come from, where unemployment is high and jobs are needed.”