August 24, 2016

Made in the USA

Household Names Make a Killing Off of the Prison-Industrial Complex

These  Household Names Make a Killing Off of the Prison-Industrial Complex


You won’t believe who’s on this list.

Once slavery was abolished in 1865, manufacturers scrambled to find other sources of cheap labor—and because the 13th amendment banned slavery (except as punishment for crimes), they didn’t have to look too far. Prisons and big businesses have now been exploiting this loophole in the 13th amendment for over a century.

“Insourcing,” as prison labor is often called, is an even cheaper alternative to outsourcing. Instead of sending labor over to China or Bangladesh, manufacturers have chosen to forcibly employ the 2.4 million incarcerated people in the United States. Chances are high that if a product you’re holding says it is “American Made,” it was made in an American prison.

On average, prisoners work 8 hours a day, but they have no union representation and makebetween .23 and $1.15 per hour, over 6 times less than federal minimum wage. These low wages combined with increasing communication and commissary costs mean that inmates are often released from correctional facilities with more debt than they had on their arrival. Meanwhile, big businesses receive tax credits for employing these inmates in excess of millions of dollars a year.

While almost every business in America uses some form of prison labor to produce their goods, here are just a few of the companies who are helping prisoners pay off their debt to society, so to speak.

 

From dentures to shower curtains to pill bottles, almost everything you can imagine is being made in American prisons. Also implicit in the past and present use of prison labor are Microsoft, Nike, Nintendo, Honda, Pfizer, Saks Fifth Avenue, JCPenney, Macy’s, Starbucks, and more. For an even more detailed list of businesses that use prison labor, visit buycott.com, but the real guilty party here is the United States government. UNICOR, the corporation created and owned by the federal government to oversee penal labor, sets the condition and wage standards for working inmates.

One of the highest-paying prison jobs in the country? Sewing American flags for the state police.

UNICOR was previously known as Federal Prison Industries, which is a for-profit organization, and the 39th largest US contractor.

UNICOR operates 110 factories at 79 federal penitentiaries and the Department of Defense is one of their largest contracts.  In 2001, UNICOR sales were $583.5 million—about $388 million of which was to DOD, or 66.5% of all business.

Prison Products That Have Been Exposed in The Media

Whole Foods

Whole Foods. The costly organic supermarket often nicknamed “Whole Paycheck” purchases artisan cheese and fish prepared by inmates who work for private companies. The inmates are paid .74 cents a day to raise tilapia that is subsequently sold for $11.99 a pound at the fashionable grocery store.

McDonald’s

McDonald’s. The world’s most successful fast food franchise purchases a plethora of goods manufactured in prisons, including plastic cutlery, containers, and uniforms.The inmates who sew McDonald’s uniforms make even less money by the hour than the people who wear them.

Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart. Although their company policy clearly states that “forced or prison labor will not be tolerated by Wal-Mart”, basically every item in their store has been supplied by third-party prison labor factories. Wal-Mart purchases its produce from prison farms where laborers are often subjected to long, arduous hours in the blazing heat without adequate sunscreen, water, or food.

Victoria’s Secret.

.Victoria’s Secret. Female inmates in South Carolina sew undergarments and casual-wear for the pricey lingerie company. In the late 1990’s, 2 prisoners were placed in solitary confinement for telling journalists that they were hired to replace “Made in Honduras” garment tags with “Made in U.S.A.” tags. Victoria’s Secret has declined to comment.

Aramark

Aramark. This company, which also provides food to colleges, public schools and hospitals, has a monopoly on foodservice in about 600 prisons in the U.S. Despite this, Aramark has a history of poor foodservice, including a massive food shortage that caused a prison riot in Kentucky in 2009.

AT&T

AT&T. In 1993, the massive phone company laid off thousands of telephone operators—all union members—in order to increase their profits. Even though AT&T’s company policy regarding prison labor reads eerily like Wal-Mart’s, they have consistently used inmates to work in their call centers since ’93, barely paying them $2 a day.

BP

BP. When BP spilled 4.2 million barrels of oil into the Gulf coast, the company sent a workforce of almost exclusively African-American inmates to clean up the toxic spill while community members, many of whom were out-of-work fisherman, struggled to make ends meet. BP’s decision to use prisoners instead of hiring displaced workers outraged the Gulf community, but the oil company did nothing to reconcile the situation.

The National Prison Braille Network (NPBN)

1. Books for the blind
There are 36 prison Braille-writing programs in the United States. Through the American Printing House for the Blind, offenders help write K-12 textbooks for blind students. In Missouri, the Center for Braille and Narration Production employs 102 convicts, many whom are certified through the Library of Congress. They transcribe anything, from novels to music.

Pride Enterprises

Park benches and picnic tables
In Florida, PRIDE (Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises) trains about 4000 inmates, who produce and provide over 3000 products and services. PRIDE’s forestry service makes park furniture like picnic tables, park benches, and wooden trashcan holders. Sixty-nine percent of PRIDE graduates are paid a max of 1.00 per hour of labor.

Canoes

Canoes
Colorado Correction Industries oversees approximately 60 inmate work programs. Jailbirds at Fremont County Jail, for example, build fiberglass-sealed canoes. They use scraps from the prison’s furniture shop and sell the canoes for around $1500. Other Colorado programs help craft those ubiquitous college dormitory desks and bookshelves.

San Quentin Prison Gift Shop

San Quentin State Prison in California is a scary place. It houses some of the most menacing criminals in the nation, and it’s home to the largest death row in the United States. But at least it has a gift shop. There, you can buy convict-made music boxes, drawings, and paintings. You can even get yourself a greeting card made by one of death row’s own.the funds go to the prisons account and inmates keep a small portion.

Horses

Horses
In Colorado, the Wild Horses Inmate Program (WHIP) trains wild mustangs, prepping them for adoption. Since 1986, the program has trained over 5000 mustangs.these horses are trained for pennies on the dollar by felons than sold or adopted, Saddle trained mustangs: The total price for saddle trained mustangs adopted from the Canon City facility is $1,025. This includes the adoption fee of $125 and a training fee of $900.00.

Starbucks Coffee

.At the Twin Rivers Corrections Unit in Monroe, Washington, Signature Packaging Solutions uses inmate labor for its packaging needs. Signature Packaging Solutions provides packaging services for corporations such as Starbucks. In 2002, Starbucks’ public affairs director Audrey Lincoff released a statement to the Seattle Weekly stating “Starbucks is aware that Signature uses inmate labor and believes its contract with Signature is entirely consistent with our mission statement.”

Dell

The group, the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, said in its report that inmates who work at the prison recycling operation were not protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act and were paid from 20 cents to $1.26 an hour.The report also criticized Unicor for not properly disposing of toxic waste.The coalition said that it would like to see Dell and other high-technology companies devise a more systematic approach to recycling the goods they manufacture.”Companies deliver their products to market in an efficient manner and we want them to do the same thing for disposing of them,” said Sheila Davis, project director for the coalition’s Clean Computer Campaign.The coalition said that reliance on cheap prison labor was a major obstacle to the creation of a profitable recycling industry for discarded electronics.The other obstacle, the group said, is the export industry, which sends materials to Asia for recycling.

AT&T

AT&T. In 1993, the massive phone company laid off thousands of telephone operators—all union members—in order to increase their profits. Even though AT&T’s company policy regarding prison labor reads eerily like Wal-Mart’s, they have consistently used inmates to work in their call centers since ’93, barely paying them $2 a day.

The United States Now Imprisons More of Its People Than Any Other Country In The World Over 2 Million American Families

The prison-industrial complex even has its own lobbyists: according to a 2011 report from the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), the U.S.’ largest private prison company, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), and their competitor the GEO Group have both spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying forlonger prison sentences.

falls_swat_team_member

Military Clothing

UNICOR’s inmate employees work on making jackets, helmets, uniforms and shoes for the United States military. An Alabama company, American Apparel Inc. also provides the same services to the U.S. military however, an executive at the company told CNN Money that competition for the contracts has become too stiff resulting in the company having to lay off 150 people over several years.

Prison Blues Jean Company

Blue jeans
The Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution is home to a 47,000 square foot facility: The Prison Blues Jeans Factory. It makes jeans, jackets, T-shirts, and hats,We are located in Eastern Oregon near the base of the Blue Mountains in historic Pendleton Oregon, USA. All of our Prison Blues brand clothing are made by inmates currently serving time at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institute,the profit goes to pay the inmates charge for being in the facility.Denim Apparel Proudly Made In The USA is their motto .

starbucks_coffee__whole_bean_pour_grinder_bw

Starbucks Coffee

http://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=23628275  Since its exposure Signature packing solutions has been aquired by another fortune 500 corporation a often used tactic to hide prison labor http://www.usacorporates.com/us/business/signature-packaging-solutions/cw7D5t9D  Signature reported making just short of 5 million i the fiscal year http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20050822005578/en/Interact-Merges-Signature-Packaging-Expands-Midwest-Distribution  Since 2005 signature was acquired by Interact Services and Signature Packaging Solutions is still growing packaging more products using prison labor . interact services do not hire convicted felons .

Packaging of Nintendo Games

During the holiday season, inmates at Twin Rivers Corrections Unit in Washington worked on packaging Nintendo Game Boys and games such as Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong. The inmates worked under subcontractor, Signature Packaging Solutions and the inmates stated that the work was very dull and repetitive inmates were paid  their normal rate of 35 cents to $1.10 an hour.

Prison Blues Jean Company

Prisoners incarcerated are often found making human silhouette targets which are used in law enforcement training and Texas prisoners make duty belts, handcuff cases and prison-cell accessories for law enforcement officers.

THE TECH INDUSTRY , TEXAS INSTRUMENTS

The Technology Sector  Many tech companies such as IBM, Dell and Texas Instruments have turned to prison labor to make their circuit boards. While these companies do not work directly with prison labor they work with the suppliers that contract out to the prison labor force..  Back in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, unionized manufacturing and packaging jobs were great for the American middle class. But that was before so many of those jobs were outsourced to Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and other countries with ultra-low wages and terrible working conditions. Some corporations, however, have found a source of ultra-cheap labor right in the U.S.: inmates, whose pay can be as low as 35 cents an hour. The technology sector has been willing to make use of prison labor. Exmark (a Microsoft subcontractor) used prisoners in Washington State for shrinkwrapping Microsoft products (including mouses and software) in the 1990s, and in 2003, Dell used federal prisoners for recycling desktop computers.

The United States Now Imprisons More of Its People Than Any Other Country In The World Over 2 Million American Families

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNetIt’s no coincidence that the United States now imprisons more of its people than any other country in the world: mass incarceration has become a giant industry in the U.S., resulting in huge profits not only for private prison companies, but also, for everything from food companies and telecoms to all the businesses that are using prison labor to cut their manufacturing costs. The prison-industrial complex even has its own lobbyists: according to a 2011 report from the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), the U.S.’ largest private prison company, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), and their competitor the GEO Group have both spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying forlonger prison sentences. And the American Bail Coalition has been lobbying for the bail bond industry for 23 years.

 One of the main reasons so many people are imprisoned in the U.S. (which now has 25% of the world’s prisoners even though it comprises only 5% of the world’s population) is the war on drugs, which has brought with it draconian sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. In a 2013 report on Americans serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses, the American Civil Liberties Union found that 79% were incarcerated for drug-related convictions. Three-strikes laws, which mandate life without the possibility of parole after a third felony conviction, have also done a lot to expand the prison-industrial complex.

Reform is at odds with the agenda of many powerful industries. It’s well-known that private prison companies draw their profits from mass incarceration, but they’re not the only ones. Here are nine industries that are profiting quite handsomely from the prison-industrial complex and mass incarceration in the U.S.

Food Supply Companies

1. Food Supply Companies: Supplying food for prisons can be extremely profitable. Just ask the Philadelphia-based Aramark Corporation, which brings in millions of dollars bringing food to around 600 prisons in North America. Aramark’s profits continue to roll in even when the company does a terrible job. In 2014, Aramark received fines of $98,000 and $200,000 from the state of Michigan for a long list of infractions, including meal shortages, unsanitary conditions (maggots found in the food, for example) and Aramark employees smuggling contraband into prisons. But such fines were a small price to pay in light of the fact that, in December 2013, Aramark signed a three-year, $145-million contract with the state of Michigan. Aramark has had problems in other states as well, including Kentucky (where corrections officers said poor food service led to a prison riot in 2009), Florida (where state officials ended a contract with Aramark after accusing the company of boosting corporate profits by skimping on meals) and Ohio (where Aramark employees have been fired for having sex with inmates).