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Should Prisoners Earn Butcher's Licenses? PETA Says No

PETA says prisoners have no business training to become butchers.

PETA says prisoners have no business training to become butchers.

"If some inmates are already comfortable with death, they may do well in positions such as mortuary embalmer or funeral director. If, on the other hand, you wish to steer them away from death and teach them to respect life, please consider programs that would train them in vegetable gardening, nursing, or flower arranging."

That's an excerpt from a letter issued by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) directed to Sen. David J. Tomassoni, who last week issued a bill proposing to allow prisoners at Northeast Regional Corrections Center to obtain butcher's licenses. PETA is calling for the senator to revoke or revise the bill, saying that butchering is a "violent profession."

See also: Ladies in lettuce bikinis brave subzero temps for PETA

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for butchers is slower than average, with about 5 percent growth for the coming decade, so it is unclear why the senator has chosen this particular training for prisoners.

That said, the PETA letter seems to focus its ire on slaughterhouse conditions, rather than meat-cutting operations:

"[Cattle] frequently collapse during the frightening ride to the slaughterhouse and are prodded or dragged off the trucks as their weary legs give out, and then, kicking and screaming, they are strung up and have their throats slit, some while still conscious," the letter reads.

Our calls to Senator Tomassoni for comment were not returned.

The PETA letter concludes:

"The bloody process of slaughtering, cutting up, and packaging the corpses of these once-living, once-sentient individuals could encourage inmates to participate in violence and deadly activities, when they should be rehabilitated to re-enter society with a life-enhancing outlook and a peaceful career."

How in demand are the alternative professions proposed by PETA?

Landscaping and groundskeeping workers earn about $12.65 per hour, registered nurses $31.48, and florists $11.45. There is almost no demand for the latter, but the need for nurses is currently at 19 percent growth. Groundskeeping workers are more in demand than butchers at 12 percent growth for the next decade, but butchers earn a median of $13.70 per hour.

What about funeral directors or embalmers? Funeral service occupations are in average demand at about 18 percent job growth and they earn a mean hourly wage of $24.87.

No word on whether PETA thinks coroner is an appropriate profession for prisoners, which has a slightly more rapid growth increase than butcher -- there's more money to be made too, at about $25.41 per hour, but a bachelor's degree is required.

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