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Who’s behind unpaid prison labor in Texas? May 27, 2016


The Texas Board of Criminal Justice, which oversees Texas Correctional Industries, the prison industry division within the state’s Department of Criminal Justice, has authority over how much compensation inmates working for the state receive for their labor. Currently, inmates working for TCI are not paid for the work done while serving their time; the only inmates who are paid anything are the small fraction who are employed by TCI’s private sector prison industries program. Click to view hundreds of products made with prisoner labor >>>

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*Year slavery and involuntary servitude abolished by the 13th Amendment except as punishment for crime503: 1865

*Year the Virginia Supreme Court declared that prisoners were "slaves of the state"504: 1871

*Year the Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed the United Nations, giving "[e]veryone ... the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests"505: 1948

*Year the Supreme Court upheld a North Carolina warden's ban on prisoners forming a labor union506: 1977

*Number of prison and jail industries in 1998507: 2,500

*Minimum estimate of annual value of prison and jail industrial output508: $2 billion

*Percent of able-bodied sentenced federal prisoners required to work in the prison509: 100%

*Number of prisoner workers in UNICOR, the federal prison industries510: 22,560

*Pay scale for federal prisoners who work outside of UNICOR in prison maintenance, in dollars per hour511: $0.12-$0.40

*Minimum wage in Haiti in dollars per hour512: $0.30

*Percent of federal prisoner-workers who work for UNICOR rather than in prison maintenance513: 25%

*Minimum UNICOR wage, in dollars per hour514: $0.23

*Maximum UNICOR wage, in dollars per hour515: $1.15

*Number of prisons where UNICOR makes office furniture516: 18

*Average hourly earnings of a non-prisoner U.S. worker making office furniture517: $13.04

*Number of prisons where UNICOR makes clothing and textiles518: 22

*Average hourly earnings of a non-prisoner U.S. worker in a textile mill519: $10.95

*UNICOR 2001 sales520: $583.5 million

*Amount purchased from UNICOR in 2001 by the Department of Defense521: $388 million

*Amount purchased from UNICOR in 2001 by the U.S. Postal Service522: $21 million

*Number of prisoners UNICOR projects will be in federal prisons in 2009523: 211,516

*Number of prisoner-workers UNCOR plans on hiring in 2009524: 31,826

*Percent of industrial orders delivered late, industry-wide525: 6%

*Percent of UNICOR orders delivered late526: 42%

*Percent failure rate of wire sold by UNICOR to the military compared to the military's next-worst supplier527: 200%

*Average hourly rate paid at a prison camp in Nevada529: $0.13

*Maximum wage paid to prisoner workers in dollars per day in Georgia and Texas530: $0

*Most prisons that pay prisoners for work have a range of pay depending on the job. Average of the minimum wages for prisoners paid by the states, in dollars per day for non-industry work531: $0.93

*Average of the maximum wages paid to prisoners by the states, in dollars per day532: $4.73

*Lowest wage reported, in dollars per day, for prisoners working in private industry533: $0.16


This page is an excerpt from The Prison Index: Taking the Pulse of the Crime Control Industry (April 2003) by Peter Wagner, published by the Western Prison Project and the Prison Policy Initiative.

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