Inmates Index Walla Walla Newspaper

Kathleen de la Pena McCook writes "Using inmates to index old newspapers is a winner The public will benefit as more historic information will be easily available and inmates will have an opportunity to work and gain new skills. It's been said that newspapers are the first draft of history. That's certainly the case in Walla Walla where at least one newspaper has documented life in the Valley for nearly a century and a half. The Statesman dates back to 1861 while the Walla Walla Union began publishing in 1869. There's a lot of Walla Walla's history to be found in those old newspapers, which are archived on microfilm at Whitman College's Penrose Library. But few people have the time or the energy to comb through microfilm or old newspapers to find out about events of the past or their relatives. The newspapers aren't indexed. That's changing. Seventy-seven years of newspapers - from the start of the Civil War through the Great Depression - are now being indexed by 11 inmates at the Washington State Penitentiary. For more on libraries and correctional institutions see : Interface."


Several years ago, the library where I worked bought some computer training CD-ROMs from a company called ViaGrafix. When the invoice was sent to village hall for payment, the accounts-payable person called the library to ask about the bill from Viagra Fix.

I have nothing against teaching prisoners skills that will help them rehabilitate and get a job when they are released but I really don't agree with using prisoners as a source of cheap labor. The article says nothing about how much they are paid if at all.

The outrage against prison labor in the United States seems to have faded to a whisper since Prison Blues and other industries came to light but it is still going on.

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