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Prison Labor Can Do All The Work


In yesterday’s post on prison labor and cheese making, Happy Jack left this amazing powerpoint presentation by Colorado Correctional Industries, the private prison mafia. Entitled, “Motivating Prisoners to Become Business Partners,” you can see all the great work you can get prison labor to do for 60 cents a day. You can have them make furniture for the governor’s office (really John Hickenlooper? Really?). You can have them make bear proof trash cans. You can

And there are outstanding benefits for the prisoners. They get job training for work that is now done by prisoners, so that’s pretty helpful when they get out. The pool for bonuses in the Panel Shop is .007314% of the monthly revenue. That seven-thousandth of a percent is pretty generous.

In all seriousness, when I read this, I think of how so many of these industries were once union jobs. Or if they weren’t union, they probably at least paid OK. Now they are undercut by prison labor. I see some of the historically most exploitative industries like apparel and agriculture taking full advantage of this situation. I almost laugh at CCI marketing prisoners to farmers as a replacement for all too rare migrant laborers from Latin America. I think of the cost argument made by CCI to the taxpayers, when of course the real cost argument is not leading the developed world in imprisoning people, mostly for nonviolent crime. I think of the future of a nation increasingly committed to labor at near-slave conditions.

And of course there’s the fire fighting. If the workers die, it’s even less money the taxpayers to fork over. But if they live, CCI gets more profit. It’s such a dilemma! As for training wild horses, that just seems bloody dangerous for anyone. So why not make prisoners do it?

There is nothing about a document like this that should surprise you except that it’s readily available on the internet. This sort of exploitation is at the core of the 21st century economy and it contributes to lack of good, dignified labor in the United States.

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