Prisoners to pay to play

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In return for permission to participate in special programs, Orange County jail prisoners soon will be expected to provide labor for nonprofit groups. "We think the inmates ought to be giving something back to the community," says jail spokesman Allen Moore.

Such an arrangement apparently won't violate imates' civil rights. "The Constitution outlaws slavery for everyone except those in jail," says Jenni Gainsborough of the National Prison Project of the ACLU. "You have no right to an education or anything like that."

And contrary to popular belief, prisoners are anxious to do something, anything, to help pass the time. The problem, she says: "It's a lot easier to say than to make it happen." There's not a lot of this kind of work available, and opposition comes from labor groups and businesses that rely on unskilled labor for their living. "This is not going to be easy to do," Moore acknowledges.

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