A Vermont man suing the state under the 13th Amendment for the labor he was forced to perform while awaiting trial in jail will get his day in court.
Finbar McGarry was a graduate student at the University of Vermont in December 2008 when he was arrested for allegedly firing a gun in his home and threatening to kill his family and an official at the university, where he had recently lost his job. His lawsuit alleges that the state violated his rights under the 13th Amendment -- which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude after the Civil War -- when he was forced to work in the laundry for minimal pay as an inmate in the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington, Vermont.
McGarry, who filed the $11-million lawsuit pro se, said he was forced to work three days a week for six weeks washing other inmates' laundry. He was paid a wage of 25 cents per hour and developed a bacterial infection on his neck because he was not provided sanitation in the laundry room, he told ABC News in an interview Thursday.
Prison officials threatened to put McGarry "in the hole," where inmates are shackled and locked up for 23 hours per day in solitary confinement, if he refused to work, he said.
McGarry was released in June 2009, and all charges against him were dropped.