Prison labor is a billion-dollar industry, the beneficiaries of this slavery include some of the largest corporations and most popular brands. There are hundreds of corporations that exploit prison labor.
Below are just some of the biggest US corporations that take advantage of this exploitation:
McDonald’s uses prison labor to produce frozen foods and process beef for patties. Workers flipping burgers and frying French fries for minimum wage at McDonald’s restaurants wear uniforms that were manufactured by prison laborers. Prisoners also process bread, milk and chicken products for McDonald’s.
Wendy’s has also been identified as relying on prison labor to reduce its cost of operations.
Starbucks uses prison labor, subcontractor Signature Packaging Solutions hired Washington state prisoners to package holiday coffees.
Walmart, one of the biggest retailers in the US uses prison inmates for manufacturing purposes. The company “hires” inmates to clean products of UPC bar codes so that products can be resold. The company has purchased produce from farms, where women prisoners face bad working conditions, inadequate medical care and very low pay
Sprint, the telecoms company, uses prison inmates to provide telecommunication services by using them in call centers.
Verizon, another telecoms company, does the same thing as Sprint.
American Airlines and Avis use inmates to take reservations
Victoria’s Secret uses prison labor to cut production costs. In South Carolina, female inmates were used to sew products. Prison workers reportedly have also been used to replace “made in” tags with “Made in USA” tags.
Kmart and J.C. Penney both sell jeans made by inmates in Tennessee prisons.
Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, used prison labor to produce missile parts.
Fidelity Investments invests some proportion of pensions and other investments owned by the US public in prison labor or in other operations related to the prison industrial complex. The investment firm funds the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which has created laws authorizing and increasing the use of prison inmates in manufacturing.
The US federal prison exploitation industry produces:
- 100% of all military helmets, war supplies and other equipment
- 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services
- 93% of paints and paintbrushes
- 92% of stove assembly
- 46% of body armor
- 36% of home appliances
- 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers
- 21% of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies and much more
Prison labor generates billions of dollars, but prisoners only receive 90 cents to $4 a day. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour which means prison labor is paid between 1/15th and 1/65th of the minimum wage.