Who Are The Prison Profiteers?

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Prison labor in the United States is referred to as insourcing. Under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), employers receive a tax credit of $2,400 for every work-release inmate they employ as a reward for hiring “risky target groups.”

The workers are not only cheap labor, but they are considered easier to control. They also tend to be African-American males. Companies are free to avoid providing benefits like health insurance or sick days. They also don’t need to worry about unions, demands for vacation time, raises or family issues.

According to the Left Business Observer, “the federal prison industry produces 100 percent of all military helmets, war supplies and other equipment. The workers supply 98 percent of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93 percent of paints and paintbrushes; 92 percent of stove assembly; 46 percent of body armor; 36 percent of home appliances; 30 percent of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21 percent of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies and much more: prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for blind people.”

With all of that productivity, the inmates make about 90 cents to $4 a day.

Here are some of the biggest corporations to use such practices, but there are hundreds more:

McDonalds
McDonald’s
McDonald’s uses inmates to produce frozen foods. Inmates process beef for patties. They may also process bread, milk and chicken products.

THE WENDY'S COMPANYWendy’s
Wendy’s has also been identified as relying on prison labor to reduce its cost of operations. Inmates also process beef for patties.

walmartWal-Mart
The company uses inmates for manufacturing purposes. The company ”hires” inmates to clean products of UPC bar codes so that products can be resold.

01-Starbucks-offers-87-000-drink-1Starbucks
The company uses inmates to cut costs as well. Starbucks subcontractor Signature Packaging Solutions hired Washington state prisoners to package holiday coffees.

sprint-logo-1Sprint
Inmates provide telecommunication services. Inmates are used in call centers.

verizon-iphone4Verizon
Inmates provide telecommunication services.

Black Friday in San FranciscoVictoria’s Secret
The company uses inmates to cut production costs. In South Carolina, female inmates were used to sew products. Also, inmates reportedly have been used to replace “made in” tags with “Made in USA” tags.

FIDELITY INVESTMENTS CANADA LTD - Fidelity silver anniversaryFidelity Investments 
401(K) or other investments are held by Fidelity, and, in some cases, some of your money invested by Fidelity is used for prison labor or in other operations related to the prison industrial complex. The investment firm funds the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which has created laws authorizing and increasing the use of inmates in manufacturing.

Earns PenneyJ.C Penney and Kmart
Kmart and J.C. Penney both sell jeans made by inmates in Tennessee prisons.

American_Airlines_MD-80_flight_577American Airlines and Avis
American Airlines and the car rental company Avis use inmates to take reservations.

  • Robert Boyle

    When Congress passed the 13th amend it kept an exception for involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime. After the Civil War, some states reliant on agricultural labor developed systems of convict-leasing, where if you were convicted of any crime (even a misdemeanor), you could be leased out to work on a farm. Or, even if you voluntarily agreed to work for a year, some states made a crime to quit. Like this old Florida law –

    Florida Statute Annotated § 817.09, repealed by Laws 1951, c.26484 § 10.
    “Obtaining property by fraudulent promise to perform labor or service. — Any person in this state who shall, with intent to injure and defraud, under and by reason of a contract or promise to perform labor or service, procure or obtain money or other thing of value as a credit, or as advances, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment not exceeding six months.”
    Once convicted, the local authorities could lease you back to that employer you tried to leave. Now you’re a convict, so involuntary servitude is okay for you.
    These crime-to-quit-work laws were not declared unconstitutional until 1944 when the US Supreme Court decided the case Pollock v. Williams, 322 U.S.
    4, note 1 (1944). The Court said that “free labor” was the law of the land.
    Since the 1980′s the US has been increasing its incarceration rate until it peaked recently at about 2.5 million humans. Under the 13th Amend, all those people can be forced to work.
    The growth of prison labor and private (for profit) prisons is an attack on the middle class. Not only does our society allow corporations to outsource jobs to foreign countries where workers earn $ 2 a day, we allow corporations to exploit incarcerated citizens at $ 4 a day.
    To keep a level playing field for the middle class – and to protect, preserve, and grow the middle class – perhaps we should apply a 30 % tariff on imports for manufactured goods and apply the federal minimum wage law to prison labor.

  • easywriter

    Well documented, well said. Thank you Robert.

  • easywriter

    Slavery runs rampant in prisons. We are looking at the future of us all.