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The Prison Policy Initiative works hard to organize all of the research about the criminal justice system so that you can find it and use it in your work. Can you help us grow this essential service?

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Prisoner Labor

Work done in prison by incarcerated populations

  • How much do incarcerated people earn in each state? Wendy Sawyer, Prison Policy Initiative, April, 2017“[P]risons appear to be paying incarcerated people less today than they were in 2001. The average of the minimum daily wages paid to incarcerated workers for non-industry prison jobs is now 87 cents, down from 93 cents reported in 2001.”
  • Get To Work or Go To Jail: Workplace Rights Under Threat UCLA Labor Center, April, 2016“The work-or-jail threat adds the weight of the criminal justice system to employers’ power, and turns the lack of good jobs into the basis for further policing, prosecution, and incarceration.”
  • Emancipate the FLSA: Transform the Harsh Economic Reality of Working Inmates Journal of Civil Rights & Economic Development, 2015“The Article calls for the application of the FLSA to all working inmates, leading to judicial uniformity, and the redistribution of wealth from the prisons to the working inmates thereby reducing recidivism.”
  • Squeeze Play The history of canteen prices and inmate pay The Prison Mirror, May, 2012“Not since 1960s have Minnesota Inmates been paid so little compared to outside wages. This makes it hard to afford canteen, which ultimately limits the money that could be flowing into programs that ultimately make Minnesota safer.”
  • Toxic Sweatshops: How UNICOR Prison Recycling Harms Workers, Communities, the Environment, and the Recycling Industry Prison Activist Resource Center, October, 2006“UNICOR facilities repeatedly failed to provide proper recycling procedures to captive laborers and staff supervisors.”
  • Corporate Strategies for Electronics Recycling: A Tale of Two Systems Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, June, 2003(compares Dell's use of prison labor with the practices of HP)
  • UNICOR 2001 Annual Report Bureau of Prisons, 2002(UNICOR is the trade name for the federal prison industries)
  • Factories with Fences: The History of Federal Prison Industries Bureau of Prisons, May, 1996
  • Prisoner Labor: Perspectives on Paying the Federal Minimum Wage General Accounting Office, May, 1993(GAO testimony based on report is at the end of the PDF)

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Events

  • November 29, 2017:
    Legal Director Aleks Kajstura will be in DC speaking at the congressional Democratic Women’s Working Group dinner about women’s mass incarceration.

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