A look into why prison's and profits are growing in the U.S.


Mr. Thomas writes. "We have recently seen the CIA - Drugs - Iran Contra - Mena, Ark. story come back to life in mainstream media. . . The 'War on Drugs' has been one of the main pluses for UNICOR and its stockholders. . . .The government has been bringing in the drugs, selling them at a profit, then locking up the users, who are then used as slave labor in Federal Prisons for UNICOR's private factories. And the taxpayer pays, and pays, and pays!

"Let's take a look at the labor force for UNICOR. . It is important to recognize that [according to the Department of Justice, 59.9%] of the current Federal Prison population is made up of 'non-violent' drug offenders. Violent prisoners do not make good factory employees." (13) It is obvious why UNICOR would prefer a non violent worker who has been given a very long sentence. "The U.S. prison population was relatively stable from about 1926, when figures were first compiled, through 1970. After this point, the effect of Nixon's war against drugs and later the Reagan and Bush war against drugs, produced a DRAMATIC increase in the number of prisoners." (14)


It is the mission of Federal Prison Industries, Inc. to employ and provide skills training to the greatest practicable number of inmates confined within the Federal Bureau of Prisons; contribute to the safety and security of our Nation's correctional facilities by keeping inmates constructively occupied; produce market-price quality goods for sale to the Federal Government; operate in a self-sustaining manner; and minimize FPI's impact on private business and labor.


"Hundreds of thousands of American prisoners now work in what is becoming a growth business: PRISON INDUSTRIES. The term encompasses several distinct but related arrangements: Federal and state prisons employ inmates to produce goods for sale to government and for the open market. Private companies as well contract with prisons to hire prisoners. And private prisons similarly employ inmate labor for private profit, either for outside companies or for the prison operators themselves. What all three arrangements share is the exploitation of a growing and literally captive labor pool.

"And that pool is overflowing. The U.S. now has 1.12 million people behind bars, and its incarceration rate is second only to Russia's. The U.S. rate is more than four times Canada's, five times England's, and 14 times Japan's. (15)

"Because of recent initiatives such as 'truth in sentencing,' 'three strikes and you're out' and limitations on parole, the growth in the prison population has been nothing short of explosive. In 1987, state and federal prisons housed 551,328 inmates. . .by the year 2000, more than 1,700,000 inmates will be housed in the nation's state and federal correctional institutions. " (16)


"California long ago stopped claiming that prison labor rehabilitates inmates. Wardens just want to keep them occupied. If prisoners refuse to work, they are moved to disciplinary housing and lose canteen privileges. Most importantly, they lose 'good time' credit that reduces their sentence. . . California has been exporting prison-made clothing to Asia. California, along with Oregon [and other states], was doing exactly what the U.S. has been lambasting China for - exporting prison-made goods. Federal law prohibits domestic commerce in prison-made goods unless inmates are paid 'prevailing wage'. But because the law doesn't apply to exports, no California prison officials will end up in cells alongside their 'employees'. 

Editor's Note: A Private Corporation-Owned by the Federal Government and Operated by The Department of Justice is Stealing Your Job!

"The sad story in America, in the American economy today, is that one of the fastest growing business in America, of the fastest growing manufacturing and service industries in America today, you will not find traded on the NASDAQ, you will not find it traded on the New York Stock Exchange, you will not find it listed in NFIB as one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial companies in America or one of the fastest growing small businesses in America. The sad point is one of the fastest growing companies in America today is a company that pays 23 cents an hour, provides no benefits and pays no taxes and is run by the Federal Government and attacks American workers and their families each and every day."

"But like I said, at least the folks in this Justice Department have defined Federal Prison Industries as a growth industry in America and an industry that they have grown by 16% over the last year, and where, in some cases, they have put in place plans to grow certain market segments by up to 50 percent in 2003. By the way, as we close factories in your community and those tax dollars are lost to the community, sorry, we are not going to add back into your tax coffers with our 111 factories or the 17 new ones we are going to build. That is just a loss for the community, and we are sure you will get over it."
                                                                                    -House Congressional Record., May 20, 2003

Civilian Inmate Labor Program January 14, 2005

Senator Debby Stabenow has this to say on her web site about job creation in Michigan.

Repeal the antiquated law that provides a monopoly for Federal Prison Industries by passing the Levin-Stabenow bill, S. 749.  Currently, Michigan companies are prohibited from selling to their own government, even if their products are less expensive and of a higher quality than those offered by Federal Prison Industries.

Title: A bill to amend the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act to establish a governmentwide policy requiring competition in certain executive agency procurements, and for other purposes. 
Sponsor: Sen Levin, Carl [MI] (introduced 4/11/2005)      Cosponsors (5) 
Latest Major Action: 4/11/2005 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.