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Isn't the current system of prison labor hypocritical?

The Prison Industrial Complex makes big money deals with states to employ the use of prison labor. The corporations save lots of money on labor, the governors and states make money, and so do the private prisons who oversee the labor.

But then, the same prisoners get out of jail and can't find a job. This contributes to the recidivism rate. And they end up back in prison, creating a bill for tax payers.

Shouldn't these wealthy corporations employ ex-cons and people in at-risk communities and cut out the middle men? Is it hypocritical of them to create a system that instead of rehabilitating people, creates a trap for them with no opportunity, then makes money off of them ONLY when they are in no position to benefit from their labor? Is this American?

7 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favourite answer

    The prison industrial complex encompasses both private housing of prisoners as well as utilizing the labor of those incarcerated. The housing is used to create profits for the companies able to capture contracts with government authorities to hold prisoners privately. Some of the same companies involved in this have diversified and now partner with private companies to supply cheap labor by the prisoners they house.

    Today all prison industry in the US is controlled and overseen by the U.S. Dept. of Justice. The main program used is the Prison Industries Enhancement Certification Program (PIE Program 18 USC 1761 (C). UNICOR does not participate in this program but all states MUST if they wish to enter into such lucrative partnerships with private companies to provide their labor.

    The companies that are "certified" to participate are provided with a workforce that is always on time, receives no paid vacations, no healthcare or insurance premium requirements, allows paid wages well under the minimum wage - and their workers cannot quit or seek employment elsewhere. When inmates involved in the program are released, there is again no incentive to employ them on the outside and have to pay them fair wages, health insurance, pay unemployment premiums and paid vacations. It is more profitable to simply fill the job with the released inmate's replacement and continue the operation.

    My argument for years has been if companies are allowed to use these prisoners in a near slave labor capacity under the guise of "training" them for employment upon release - those companies should be required to hire them when they get out. That is not the case and is fought against by the National Correctional Industries Association (NCIA, a trade association representing prison industry operators, suppliers, vendors and companies using inmate labor). Through a federal grant the NCIA now has total oversight of the PIE Program nationwide under a grant from the BJA: They set policy and handle all oversight and compliance investigation complaints. Fox guarding the "Penhouse" in this case.

    The NCIA put out this video in cooperation with the DoJ and Bureau of Justice assistance:

    Youtube thumbnail

    &feature=plcp. If you take the 8 minutes to watch, you will see that this really is a new way of moving jobs (quietly) from the private sectors and putting them in the hands of prisoners. This is adding to our unemployment and is another form of slave labor, sanctioned and authorized by our government.

    So the brief answer is yes, this is hypocritical. The system has been modified to continually recycle the inmate worker in and out of prison, with each sentence longer than the last in order to perpetuate a cheap and silent workforce for large corporations. It lacks any real oversight and disadvantages private sector companies trying to compete.

    A review of the SEC filings of U.S. Technologies (now defunct due to corrupt practices): exposes the processes, the partnership(s), cheap leases, public subsidized utilities...and most importantly the board of directors of UST involved in exploiting prisoners for their labor to create a distinct business advantage over their competitors through political influence(s).

    Prisoners can be trained, given a work ethic and become employable upon release without the involvement of private companies. They can make products needed by those with low income, products necessary for prisons and state institutions, schools, etc. without directly competing on the open markets. They way it is done now is corrupt and operated so as to maximize profits and the mission goals of the programs have been forgotten.

    Bob Sloan

    Prison Industry Consultant

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  • None
    Lv 5
    8 years ago

    The "customers" in this situation are the government agencies that pay the prison industry corporations. Those nasty corporations simply perform the job that the customers specify. If the paying agency wants prisoners to learn job skills, there are plenty of programs for that to happen. However, it the agency does not want to pay for those services, then the nasty corporation just provides the services that are specified. Its the government agencies - like state corrections departments - that make the choice in these matters.

    Source(s): experience working with correctional agencies
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  • 8 years ago

    The prison labor system exists primarily to give the prisoners something to do instead of sitting around idle all day and getting into further trouble. They also earn some cash so as to buy items in the prison store (at reduced costs so as to make their pay more valuable). Companies are reluctant to hire ex-cons because of their felony records. In addition, most of the violent offenders do not have enough education to do anything more than sweep floors. Let me reverse your question and ask if it is American to lock up convicted felons? Of course it is in order to protect honest citizens. Then the question becomes 'what do we do with them?'. The answer is above.

    For the person who feels that if a profit is made, it is the fault of evil Republicans, will he accept that if a loss occurs, it is the Fault of evil Democrats? It is not a political issue. It is a question of safety.

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  • 4 years ago

    It would be healthier as long as they are supervised if it gets two jobs done. Currently it's the working classes doing bird in slave labour camps. Prisons are a waste of good money and resources if they are in prison less then less resources are getting used there and we could get the fields tended for free.

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  • 8 years ago

    slavery and scam. also you will note that copyrights enable imprisonment of citizens. copyrights are against the constitution in that the constitution state election required for authority and that all are equal. also that citizens and the government have authority .the bill of rights states as tyrannical the attempt for an individual to appropriate the money ,food resources for own finacial gain. or that is definition of tyaranny an individual claiming undemocratic power by force. so F.B.I. are in service of tyrants or their authority has been misapropriated by holly wood to claim federal offence or impose a law in contravention of the u.s. constitution.

    Source(s): u.s. constitution. transatlantic slavery history 1980's and history of convict chain gangs u.s. 1930's and in australia penal colony 19th century.
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  • 6 years ago

    The prison system was built as an example for those on the outside ''This is what we will do to you if you commit crime''

    It is not about rehabilitation, it is in the eyes of scholar Angela Davis the new slavery!

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  • Pat
    Lv 7
    8 years ago


    And we can thank REPUBLICANS for that.

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