The United States incarcerates more people per-capita than any other nation, and more than two million people in our prisons continue to work. These people work for extremely low wages (and to be fair, they are prisoners), but also often under poor conditions. John Arvanitis writes about the problems inherent in the way we employ our prisoners in the US.
Prisoners take on such manual labor jobs as manufacturing license plates and road signs, sewing clothes, constructing office furniture, maintaining fish farms, and even assembling components for the military. It was not until legislation in 1995 that private companies could legally use prison labor. Before then, prison labor was viewed as an unfair advantage, and as far as Arvanitis is concerned, it is still an unfair advantage.
Businesses stand to benefit from prisoners in myriad ways. Prisoners make next to nothing for their work, they have no union representation, and corporations can often receive tax breaks for employing them. And in some instances, if prisoners choose not to work, prisons can place them in solitary confinement or increase sentence length. “Motorola, Compaq, Honeywell, Microsoft, Boeing, Revlon, Chevron, TWA, Victoria’s Secret, and Eddie Bauer” are all cited as major employers profiting from prison labor according to the Center for Global Research.
More facts are needed, of course. Arvanitis presents only one side of the story, though that does not necessarily discount his argument. You can read his full article here: http://www.csrwire.com/blog/posts/1383-the-u-s-prisons-network-a-cheap-supply-chain-with-no-checks-balances