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By EDITORIAL  |  July 14, 2010

Memo to Keith Olbermann
We're not sure if you consider nominations for your nightly "Worst-Person in the World" award, but we've got a pair of sterling candidates here in Massachusetts. They are, of course, elected officials who are seeking to stay elected. And you will not be surprised that the duo — State Representative Elizabeth Poirier of North Attleborough and Bristol County Sherriff Thomas Hodgson — are also Republicans.

Poirier and Hodgson want to end the practice of paying prison inmates for their work. Doing so, they claim, could save the state up to $3 million per year. Of course, the commonwealth could save even more if prisons and jails just stopped feeding inmates.

Poirier is the visionary who in April successfully amended the budget to charge inmates $5 a day for their time in the cells. (A special commission must now study that bill.) Since so many convicts are poor, where will they get the money to pay their way if they cannot work for nominal rates? Perhaps the Department of Correction could seek a loophole in the 14th Amendment and sell the convicts into slavery, or at least bring back indentured servitude? And then there are always chain gangs. Didn't Hodgson already try those?

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