Prison Industry: Cheap Labor for Big Business

jail cellSo you want to pay your employees less than illegal-immigrant rates? Well you are in luck! Prison labor is dirt cheap, and you don’t even have to have an HR department to worry about silly things like healthcare.

They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or comp time. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells.

That sounds pretty darn good for menial tasks… but how many potential workers are we talking about?

There are approximately 2 million inmates in state, federal and private prisons throughout the country. According to California Prison Focus, “no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens.” The figures show that the United States has locked up more people than any other country: a half million more than China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S. Statistics reveal that the United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population, but only 5% of the world’s people.

“Land of the free” my ass. 2 Million inmates? Are we really that much safer having a bunch of pot heads or deadbeat dads (and moms) behind bars? This reminds me of one of my favorite books, Go Directly to Jail: The The Criminalization of Almost Everything . And finally.

“The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”

Boy, I can’t wait for the day when they start invoking the USA PATRIOT Act a bit more and we all become political prisoners for questioning Big Bro. But hey, at least we’ll get 25 cents an hour. Only 20 hours of work for a value meal at McDonalds if inflation stays low.

  1. Go to, Friday, Oct. 25, 2005 edition. Read the article of the two hunters that were fined, placed on probation and ordered to submit to drug testing all because their hunting dogs wandered onto Ft. Stewart, an army post. I know the area and the military reservation is huge. A federal magistrate appears to have exceeded his limits of power by fining them $500.00 each when the maximum fine in extreme cases can be only $250.00. They even have to report to probation officers during their probation. I am surprised the federal magistrate did not give them prison time so they could be cheap slave labor. What the hell is happening in our nation?

  2. For Federal Prison Industries it is a growth business, such a growth business that a little less than a year ago, Hathaway Shirts in Maine had to shut their doors after a major shirt order went to Federal Prison Industries and did not go to private competition, to the private sector”. – House C.R., May 20, 2003