On this Labor Day, it’s good to remember and honor those who toil in prison, working for as little as $.23 an hour. After many years of hard work and dedication, an inmate might command up to $1.15 / hour with no savings program to accompany this exploitation.
Federal Prison Industries, or UNICOR as it’s now known, is a government-owned corporation that employs more than 17,000 people across dozens of institutions throughout the country.
Created in 1934, the company was allowed to sell its products like furniture, textiles, and electronics only to other government agencies, which actually made some sense. That changed in 2012 when it began selling to the private sector.
Now that 23 cents / hour labor makes chairs, for example, that routinely sell for $3,000.
In essence these men and women are modern day slaves who enrich corporate America.
It might not be quite so bad if the knowledge and skill that these prisoners gain during incarceration could be applied to life outside the walls, but it isn’t.
As a convicted felon with a prison record, it’s virtually impossible to get a meaningful job that pays well, with the penal system doing essentially nothing to facilitate this transition.