Jun 19, 2012
Many prisoners work within prisons producing goods and services to maintain correctional facilities, reducing the costs to taxpayers of maintaining prisoners and gaining some work skills. A much smaller number work in traditional correctional industry activities, such as for the Federal Prisons. The ABA Subcommittee on Correctional Industries estimated that total employment of prisoners in 1997 in traditional correctional industries amounted to about 75,000 in a workforce of over 136 million persons, while just 2,400 prisoners worked for private sector industries (ABA, figure 3). Federal Prison Industries, UNICOR, employs about 17,000 inmates. With nearly 2 million inmates in 1999 the majority of whom are in state and federal prisons where inmate work could be most readily increased, there is considerable potential scope for increasing the work activity of prisoners.
What are the likely economic consequences of an increase in the amount of work prisoners do for the market outside of prisons? Who would benefit? Who would lose? What would be the most efficacious way to increase the work activity of prisoners?
To read this excellent economic analysis of Prison labor, please click here where it is one of a number of articles.