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prisoner at work

             Prisoners at Work Currently at least 36 states have industries which are operating within prison walls and employ inmates. Why have prisoners at work? There are four main reasons for putting inmates to work: 1) to raise revenue through the selling of goods and services made and provided by the inmates themselves; 2) to increase punishment (no more sitting around and loafing in prison all day); 3) to rehabilitate by instilling work ethics and skills that will help the inmate in the future); and 4) to better manage the population by giving the inmates something productive to do, keeps them busy. (Gondles 1999) The History section of this booklet shows that prison industries are nothing new, and that these industries have long been a point of heated debate. On one side, the public wants to keep prison costs down and these industries go a long way towards making some institutions self-sufficient. On the other hand, people do not want to lose their jobs to convicted criminals. Opponents of prison industries generally disagree with the policy of allowing prison industries to compete with private sector companies. They claim that the low labor costs give prison industries an unfair advantage in the marketplace. It is true that inmate labor is cheaper, an inmate may make between .23 cents and a few dollar per hour where a worker in the free world would make between 8 to 12 dollars per hour for the same job. What opponents do not realize is that most states have laws requiring inmates to work, and there are simply not enough menial task to keep inmates busy. It is also to be noted that only about 50% of the countries inmate population works and only about 6.7 of the inmates are involved in a correctional industry (Ingley, 99). Why do we have such an outcry against so few participant? Sure, there are horror stories, such as Crisp county Georgia where some employees where laid off from recycling plant (subsequently ending up back on welfare), and were replaced by inmate labor from a local women's prison (Cook, 1999).

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