This blog was created for the purpose of sharing info about and my experiences with occupy. I'm a former reformer who never really found a proper or complete place with activism, until I met occupy.
Prison Labor Exposed: From Starbucks to Microsoft - A sampling of what US prisoners make & for whom
May 21, 2013
Tens of thousands of US inmates are paid from pennies to minimum wage—minus fines and victim compensation—for everything from grunt work to firefighting to specialized labor.
The breaded chicken patty your child bites into at school may have been made by a worker earning twenty cents an hour, not in a faraway country, but by a member of an invisible American workforce: prisoners. At the UnionCorrectional Facility, a maximum security prison in Florida, inmates from a nearby lower-security prison manufacture tons of processed beef, chicken and pork for Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises (PRIDE), a privately held non-profit corporation that operates the state’s forty-one work programs. In addition to processed food, PRIDE’s website reveals an array of products for sale through contracts with private companies, from eyeglasses to office furniture, to be shipped from a distribution center in Florida to businesses across the US. PRIDE boasts that its work programs are “designed to provide vocational training, to improve prison security, to reduce the cost of state government, and to promote the rehabilitation of the state inmates.”
And 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.”
Texas inmates produce brooms and brushes, bedding and mattresses, toilets, sinks, showers, and bullwhips.
In Texas, prisoners make officers’ duty belts, handcuff cases, and prison-cell accessories. California convicts make gun containers, creepers (to peek under vehicles), and human-silhouette targets.
A stitch in time: California inmates sew their own garb. In the 1990s, subcontractor Third Generation hired 35 female South Carolina inmates to sew lingerie and leisure wear for Victoria’s Secret and JCPenney. In 1997, a California prison put two men in solitary for telling journalists they were ordered to replace “Made in Honduras” labels on garments with “Made in the usa.”
Open wide: At California’s prison dental laboratory, inmates produce a complete prosthesis selection, including custom trays, try-ins, bite blocks, and dentures.
Constructive criticism: Prisoners in for burglary, battery, drug and gun charges, and escape helped build a Wal-Mart distribution center in Wisconsin in 2005, until community uproar halted the program. (Company policy says, “Forced or prison labor will not be tolerated by Wal-Mart.”)
On call: Its inmate call centers are the “best kept secret in outsourcing,” Unicor boasts. In 1994, a contractor for gop congressional hopeful Jack Metcalf hired Washington state prisoners to call and remind voters he was pro-death penalty. Metcalf, who prevailed, said he never knew.
Federal Prison Industries, a.k.a. Unicor, says that in addition to soldiers’ uniforms, bedding, shoes, helmets, and flak vests, inmates have “produced missile cables (including those used on the Patriot missiles during the Gulf War)” and “wiring harnesses for jets and tanks.” In 1997, according to Prison Legal News, Boeing subcontractor MicroJet had prisoners cutting airplane components, paying $7 an hour for work that paid union wages of $30 on the outside.
Hmmm….under these circumstances, having a large slave, oops I mean prison population is advantageous. What an “original” idea!
Damn, it is one thing if this was about rehabilitation and helping people gain skills and get jobs when they leave prison. Maybe pocket away some money in an account for use when a man or woman gets out of prison. At least you could argue some type of “win/win” scenario. Investment firms like Fidelity Investments fund companies and organizations that administrate these types of “programs. I do not think that is what is going on here.
It is not clear to me, at all, that rehab and helping people get back into the workforce is what is intended or going on. I have a hard time believing that inmates net any money or receive developmental assistance that translates to smoother re-entry into non-prison life. My mind is open and I will keep researching, but this just sounds like re-legalized slavery to me.
Yes, and the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution clearly spells out the intention. It’s absolutely disgusting how comfortable our society has become with this. It’s sickening.
I fucking hate this country
These “programs” used to run under the auspices of rehabilitation and reentry, but the PIC doesn’t even bother to pretend that’s the case anymore.
Here’s an oldie but goodie article about Folsom state prison, how the security guard union in CA destroyed their rehabilitation program, which was at one time considered to be the most successful in the US: http://www.npr.org/2009/08/13/111843426/folsom-embodies-californias-prison-blues
And by the way, it’s the same union which brought us seriously heinous policies like “3rd strike.”
I’m not suggesting this look back on Folsom is how it should be even now though, as I’m firmly against the PIC. I just wanted to add some information that I think is helpful to those who may be thinking there is some sort of rehabilitation actually happening (like the person who commented above).
It’s a total sham and slave labor is indeed a primary purpose of the PIC. Like everything else in our capitalist society, it’s all about the money.
Statement by Jerry:
My name is Gerald Koch and I have been subpoenaed to a federal grand jury based in the Southern District of New York regarding the 2008 Times Square Military Recruitment Center bombing. This is my second subpoena concerning this matter; I was also subpoenaed in June of 2009. I refused to testify at that time based on the assertion of my First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment rights, as I will be doing again for the duration of this grand jury. During the first grand jury, the government informed my lawyers that it was believed that I was at a bar in 2008 or 2009 where a patron indicated knowledge of who had committed the bombing. When I was first subpoenaed to the grand jury in 2009 I had no recollection of any such incident— a fact that I expressed publically. Now, almost 4 years later, I still do not recall the alleged situation.
Given that I publically made clear that I had no knowledge of this alleged event in 2009, the fact that I am being subpoenaed once again suggests that the FBI does not actually believe that I possess any information about the 2008 bombing, but rather that they are engaged in a ‘fishing expedition’ to gain information concerning my personal beliefs and political associations.
Over the past few decades, the FBI has demonstrated a consistent pattern of harassment and illegal surveillance of anarchists and other radicals not only here in New York, but also across the country. Throughout this time, federal grand juries (incredibly secretive proceedings that do not permit one’s lawyers to be present) have played a significant role; a federal grand jury is authorized to ask questions about anything and anyone, and often the declared intention is simply a mask to disguise the actual goal of acquiring information for use in other politically motivated cases. It is my belief that these two federal grand juries—despite the pretense of investigation into the 2008 bombing—are actually being used to gain information about my friends, loved ones, and activists for whom I have done legal support. By declining to testify, I refuse to be coerced into participating in a political witch-hunt that eerily recalls those of the McCarthy era Red Scare.
I again assert that I have no knowledge of who is responsible for the 2008 Times Square Military Recruitment Center bombing, and I will once again refuse to testify to the federal grand jury in ethical resistance to participation in a fruitless exercise of fear-mongering and government intimidation. My decision to stay silent in defense of individual agency will most likely result in incarceration for a period up to 18 months. I accept this recompense, understanding that in doing so I will reinforce a tradition of defending individual rights in the face of state repression.
Jerry’s contempt hearing is tomorrow, May 21st at 3:45 PM on the 20th floor of 500 Pearl Street.
Announcement coming Monday
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN
I smell ads coming if this is true
I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT
we’re sorry, rest of tumblr… we failed
oh no please let this not be true
I can’t find anything in the news confirming this.
Check NY Times and Wired, they both reported the sale. Tragically true.
I agree with the probable increase in ads and figure it’s a solid idea NOT to update my Tumblr app for a while, just in case.
i have 2 of these hell ya
hey now, most of these guys are doing what they really think is right. some are providing for families. some have no other ways to survive. my dad doesnt brag about killing the enimies or the families, he doesnt talk about them or the war at all - blame the men that sent them over there, not the ones ordered to fire
These soldiers voluntarily decided killing people would be a good job. Tell me, what makes them immune to morality?
Same goes for police. They aren’t killing, thieving and/or brutalizing anybody for me when they put on that uniform either.