Convict leasing for agriculture – a system that allows states to sell prison labor to private farms – became infamous in the late 1800s for the brutal conditions it imposed on captive, mostly black workers.
Federal and state laws prohibited convict leasing for most of the 20th century, but the once-notorious practice is making a comeback.
Under lucrative arrangements, states are increasingly leasing prisoners to private corporations to harvest food for American consumers.
The U.S. food system relies on cheap labor. Today, median income for farm workers is US$10.66 an hour, with 33% of farm-worker households living…