The Prison Industrial Complex and 7 Companies Making a Fortune


Prisons are big business. There isn’t a doubt, and I can speak first hand after working in the system for over a decade, leaving it with a hindsight and insight into its ugly nature. Essentially, the industrial side of prisons’ makes for a perfect capitalist venture. Cheap (slave) labour for exchange of goods. No Occupational Health and Safety so to speak, unless it is to the benefit of the industry – not the prisoner. The profit margins are massive! It’s a breeding ground for corporate money making greed. private-prison

But my rant aside, ‘insourcing’ as they call prison labor is a big business. It’s cheaper than ‘outsourcing’ to countries such as China and Bangladesh. In America alone, the access to cheap labour runs into the millions of prisoner hands working an average 8 hour day for very little money. If the prisoner earns around $1.15 an hour in an American or Australian prison, then they’re doing well for themselves.


In America there are several large companies assisting the criminal element of society paying off their debt for their crime committed. Now, I’m all for the severe punishment of a rapist, murderer, pedophile; but one must ask the question: to what degree for those of lesser crimes? And what about those serving minimal sentences that eventually are found innocent, or those, well, just in there for unpaid fines?


Here are some of the bigger companies feeding off the prison system employment center:

  1. MacDonalds – MacDonald’s uniforms are sewn by inmates at less earnings an hour than those who wear them.
2. Whole Foods – For .74 cents a day, inmates prepare artisan fish and cheese to be sold for $11.99 a pound in the trendy stores.
3. Wal-Mart – Third party prison factories supply Wal-Mart with all types of goods. Ironically, Wal-Mart claim that they don’t use “forced” prison labour for any of their products.
4. Victoria’s Secret – The company declined to comment when 2 prisoners were put in solitary confinement after telling how they were ‘employed’ to replace ‘Made in Honduras’ tags with ‘Made in America’ tags on VS goods.
5. Aramark – This company has a monopoly on food supply to colleges via the employment of prisoners.
6. BP – When BP spilt 4.2 million barrels of oil into the Gulf Coast they opted to employ inmates to clean up there mess rather than locals struggling to make ends meet. A stir was naturally caused, BP never offered an explanation.
7. AT&T – for barely $2 a day you can work in an AT&T call center. But there’s a catch. They prefer prisoners. Since 1993, when they laid off thousands of operators, the prison system is used as their main source to hire employees.

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  1. Dammit, I used to study the AT&T database for face recognition (using the eigenface algorithm, which is very basic by the way). If this is true they should probably be called AT$T 🙁


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