Alabama agriculture officials consider using inmates to fill labor shortage agency blames on state's new illegal immigration law

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama , December 6, 2011 () – Alabama agriculture officials are considering whether prisoners can fill a labor shortage the agency blames on the new state law against illegal immigration.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries is meeting with south Alabama farmers and businesses in Mobile on Tuesday. Deputy commissioner Brett Hall says the agenda includes a presentation on whether work-release inmates could help fill jobs once held by immigrants.

Hall says planting season is coming up, and some growers fear most of their workers are gone. The agriculture agency says the new law has caused a chronic labor shortage on Alabama farms.

Prison spokesman Brian Corbett says the state has about 2,000 work-release prisoners, and most already have jobs.

Corbett says the prison system isn't the solution to worker shortages caused by the law.

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