In Portland, which prides itself on being a beacon of progressive politics, the practice of using prisoner work crews is painted as a win-win – but that’s not how some see it

In many places in the US, the fraught job of clearing out a homeless encampment is given to professionals. In San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, for example, the job often falls to city employees in public works or sanitation departments, who might get paid upwards of $16 per hour.

But in Portland, which prides itself on being a paragon of progressive politics, inmates at the county jail get $1 a day – enough to buy a Butterfinger at the commissary – to do the work.

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