Inmate claims he was subjected to slavery, seeks back wages for prison work

David Yates Mar. 28, 2007, 12:00pm

An inmate convicted of sexual assault is suing the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles for 10 years of back wages for labor he performed while incarcerated, claiming the prison subjected him to slavery.

Steven Deem, found guilty of aggravated sexual assault on Oct. 24, 1997, was sentenced to 10 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division.

According to Deem's petition, during the past nine years, he has worked for TDCJID, accumulating nearly five years of "work-time credit."

He is now seeking payment for those credits and payment for an additional five years of "good-time" credits, in the amount of the federal minimum wage applicable for each year, at a rate of 40 hour work week, 52 weeks a year � plus interest and court costs, the petition said.

Deem is citing a "Due Process Clause" imbedded within the amendment that gives him the right to plead with the court to not impose "slavery" upon him, the petition said.

The state of Texas has created a "Right of Due Process on the good-time and work-time which it pays its prisoners," the petition said.

The petition was filed in the Jefferson County District Court on March 26, 2007.

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