What do they do? Well, when the program began, the job consisted of raising CRTs over their heads and smashing them down on metal tables to separate the glass from the recyclables. Ultimately inmates might want to reevaluate the risks, which are outlined in a excellent joint report entitled Toxic Sweatshops. In addition, the March 2007 issue of Prison Legal News has picked up on the practice, which suggests, amongst other things, that the program to just there to provide a labor intensive activity to keep inmates quiet. And, as the article reports, inmates are dying from the exposure to the toxic chemicals in the eWaste.
What is most striking is that a baseline has not been established for this type of activity; not in a workplace rulebook, not in a federally mandated guide, but in peoples' minds. Computers are hazardous, they are filled with poisonous chemicals and materials, and need to be treated like poisonous waste. Not like something that can be smashed down on tables by inmates.