Tens of thousands of US inmates, victims of modern slavery, get paid pennies to work in Prison’s Industry Complexes. In Texas inmates produce brooms and brushes, bedding and mattresses, toilets, sinks, showers, and bullwhips. That is not all! they also make officers’ duty belts, handcuff cases, and prison-cell accessories. California convicts make gun containers, creepers (to peek under vehicles), and human-silhouette targets. And in a dental laboratory, inmates produce a complete prosthesis selection, including custom trays, try-ins, bite blocks, and dentures.
In the mid-1990s, Victoria’s Secret and J. C. Penney hired subcontractor Third Generation, who, in turn, hired people to stitch their lingerie and leisure wear — 35 South Carolina inmates, and in Washington prisoners shrink-wrapped software and up to 20,000 Microsoft mouses for subcontractor Exmark (other reported clients: Costco and JanSport).
“We don’t see this as a negative,” a Microsoft spokesman said at the time. Dell used federal prisoners for PC recycling in 2003,
but stopped after a watchdog group warned that it might expose inmates to toxins.
Each month, California inmates process more than 680,000 pounds of beef, 400,000 pounds of chicken products,450,000 gallons of milk, 280,000 loaves of bread, and 2.9 million eggs (from 160,000 inmate-raised hens). Starbucks subcontractor Signature Packaging Solutions has hired Washington prisoners to package holiday coffees (as well as Nintendo Game Boys). Confronted by a reporter in 2001, a Starbucks rep called the setup “entirely consistent with our mission statement.”
Image source: www.topcriminaljusticedegrees.org