Published on: Thursday, February 9, 2023

In Lackawanna County, Penn., if a court finds you can afford to pay child support but you didn't, you get a prison term and won't have access to work-release to earn money unless you spend the first half of the sentence doing "community service" at a private recycling center, for nearly no pay in unsanitary and dangerous conditions. Three people sued: This is a 13th Amendment and Fair Labor Standards Act violation. Third Circuit: That may sound like involuntary servitude, but it doesn't violate the Thirteenth Amendment. It does, however, sound like it runs afoul of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and labor laws. 

The case is Burrell v. Staff, No. 21-02846 (3d Cir. Feb. 8, 2023).