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Introduction

Thousands of hard working Americans have lost their jobs to narcotic dealers, armed robbers, pedophiles, and rapists because minimum wage does not apply to inmates because inmate labor is very inexpensive. It is very difficult for a private company to compete against a prison that produces the same goods, especially if the prison pays an hourly wage to inmates of 23 cents (Slaughter par 10). The wage gap creates an unfair advantage for the private sector to directly compete. Also, opponents of prison labor argue that it is inhumane to make convicts to work at very low wages. Some even believe it violates the Thirteenth Amendment since some convict labor is involuntary work. On the other hand, supporters of prison labor believe it benefits convicts, because they gain marketable skills to apply once they are released. Also, prisoners are believed to be an untapped resource that should be utilized because convict labor can slow the flow of outsourcing overseas. Furthermore, convicts are less likely to be repeat offenders if employed during their incarceration. Opponents of prison labor believe most prison jobs are not marketable skills that can be applied once released. They fear inmates learn skills such as sewing blue jeans and once released they will not find a job because sewing blue jeans is mostly done overseas (Slaughter par 19). A convict leaving prison with high hopes not finding a job once released may lead to him being a repeat offender and that would be counter productive to what correctional facilities are for. ...read more.

Middle

Instead, GEONEX went to Liberty Correctional Institution near Tallahassee, keeping the jobs in America. It is a win win situation if corporations look at 1.5 million prisoners as potential national assets rather than liabilities, we can help convicts by training them with marketable skills that will give them an advantage in the evolving job market they did not have before incarceration, and corporations can utilize cost effective labor. Our country needs more exports and less imports and convict labor can help. (Zalusky par 5) Also, because of this the money stays in the country and the convicts will be able to help victims, their own family, and pay off debt. It would be great to see other countries for once hire Americans instead of going to China or some other third world country. In addition to training and a regular paycheck, they also can expect to make at least $25,000 or more a year doing a similar job once released. (Richey par 5) Supporters of prisoner labor's most important and effective argument is those involved in industry programs are less likely to become repeat offenders, which of course is the most important goal of all prison systems. Florida, which has a strong post-release program in place, found that only 17 percent of inmates involved for at least six months in its correctional industries program such as PRIDE, were recommitted within two years from the time the study began in 1996. ...read more.

Conclusion

(Cochran par 27) Although prison labor has a small impact on the national work force, if convict labor spreads it could cause more law abiding civilian jobs. Overall prison labor could be positive for both convict and private business if reform is made. Correctional facility employment programs are not designed to train prisoners for gainful post-confinement careers. The manufacturing of goods that would otherwise be produced offshore is inappropriate training. Furthermore, training in industries such as textiles and apparel, which already compete with low-cost imports, is of small value. Modifications within the system are needed to help the prisoners while not harming the private sector. Although this goal is lofty and complex it is still very much obtainable by enhancing training programs within prisons, as long as prison labor programs are not destroying American jobs. If production of goods must continue as an element of prison industries, such production should be only of those products for which there is no commercial market. Prison labor reform is needed to fulfill three valuable outcomes: prisoners would receive training; important goods, which are not commercially viable, would be produced; and law-abiding Americans would no longer face unfair and predatory competition from prison labor initiatives. If reforms are not enacted, some prisoners will continue to learn unmarketable skills which may lead to unemployment and possible re-incarceration. Also if reform is not made soon more law abiding citizens will continue to lose jobs to our national liabilities because companies seek the lowest possible labor expense and lowest cost goods even if it is manufactured in a prison. ...read more.

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