Is Prison Labor Good for America? Essay

1150 Words 5 Pages
Luke House
October 30, 2008
Lit Essay
Prison Labor In America

Is Prison labor good for America?

Introduction: The Benefits and Problems Due to the tight labor market, companies are relying on prisoners to provide them with labor. As of now, private prisons have become one of the largest powers in the “prison-industrial complex.” There are approximately 18 private prison corporations, which guard 10,000 prisoners, and more than 37 states have legalized the contracting of prisoners by private companies (Prison Slave Labor: Fascism U.S. – Style). For both the prisons, and the companies, it’s a good deal. Whyte and Baker list the benefits for those who utilize prison labor: no unions, strikes, health benefits, unemployment
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A problem that ex-offenders have is maintaining a job, and studies show that this contributes to the high recidivism rates (Atkinson). A Post-Release Employment Project study yielded results that proved employed prisoners generally perform better once resubmitted into society than those who do not work. Really it's [prison labor] benefiting us. It gives us an opportunity to gain those skills that are going to be necessary when you get out of here.”

Prison Labor and the Economy/Job Impact: Much of the commentary about prison labor suggests that it is stealing jobs from Americans outside of prisons. Allowing companies access to prison labor lowers their expenses, as filling a job spot with a prisoner allows the company to pay a lower salary. There have been claims made suggesting that working class Americans have to take pay cuts in order to keep there jobs so they won’t lose them to prison workers. With that said, there is limited information on the topic, and most reports offered no concrete evidence that prison labor is stealing jobs.
Morgan Reynolds, a professor of economics at Texas A&M University refers to prison labor as a “job creator.” According to his report, “prison industries have produced more than $1 billion worth of goods and services in 1994.” In Professor Reynolds report, he found that prison work does not steal jobs. Reynolds states that, “prison production requires new purchases from free-world

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