Prison Movement's Weblog: Opinion: Yuram Abdullah Weiler: Profit From Prisoners: How UNICOR Capitalizes on Inmate Labor
The United States has a high convict recidivism rate, i.e., a large percentage of our prison inmates come back to prison after they finish their sentences. 70 % of ex-convicts return to prison. We also have a relatively large prison population. About 1 of every 100 Americans is either in prison, on parole, or under some other type of supervised probation.
Because of these factors, we have high prison costs. Prisons, as they are currently structured do not pay for themselves. There are a few exceptions to that among state prisons that are like family farms. There are a few prisons in Louisiana where inmates work full-time producing food and other products for the institution but also to sell on the market and to other government agencies.
We should make prison industries real enterprises producing products for the prisons but also for other government agencies and the open market as well. Local business could manage these industries using the inmate population as their staff. Instead of paying the inmates 20 cents or a dollar an hour, as is done now, they could pay them the local going rate for the work that they do.