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Prison labor for private companies is sweatshop labor?

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posted on Dec, 11 2011 @ 11:47 PM
link Western clothing brands have become increasingly sensitive to the conditions in their supply chains, Cambodia has set itself up as a “sweatshop-free” alternative to garment giants like China and Bangladesh.

But all this could be about to change. Human rights groups say the country’s hard-won reputation is on the line following the passage of a new law that legalizes the use of prison labor by private companies — including garment contractors.

How does prison labor in another country suddenly become sweatshop labor when the same thing is happening on a massive scale in the United States?

This is just one such example of a site shining a light on this issue.

I don't really understand this too well. How is it okay in the U.S., but it's sweatshop labor when it's done in Cambodia?

posted on Dec, 12 2011 @ 12:05 AM
I believe to some people, the difference is we're the bad American consumers and nothing that happens to us can compare to whatever might be happening to poor people somewhere else, on the other side of the planet. It's a mindset I can never sympathize with or agree with at all, but I understand the line of thought they are following. Stinkin Thinkin in another term I've heard used to describe it...your're right.

posted on Dec, 12 2011 @ 12:30 AM
Oh it's only slave labor when it happens in China. When prisoners in America make consumer goods, it is teaching them a useful skill. It's so that they can get a job at all the blue jean factories that operate on the West Coast. What a joke. They are all slave laborers.
edit on 12-12-2011 by Redwookieaz because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 12 2011 @ 01:54 AM
I have a friend in the prison system and he works making braille books for the vision impaired. Each book "printed" brings in this prison from $3-$15 depending on the book. There are 3 people in the workshop for 8 hours/day 6 days a week. The "print" between 100-250 books/hour(depending on the size). lets take the lowest cost book at $3 and the max amount of books, due to smaller size, at 250. That is $750/hour income for the prison. Now they make $.33/hour times 3 people is $.99 pay out to "employees"/hour(we will round it up to $1 for simplicity). The Paper board, in bulk, is(by his statement, as he also is responsible for the books), at this rate of books "printed" is about $7 an hour. So with this math the prison makes $742/hour(the press is manual not electric) profit, while his $.33/hour is cut by $.18/hour to pay for his housing. His "take home" pay is $.15/hour. So at $742/hour x 48hours/week x 4 weeks the prison makes $142,464.00 while he and his buddies make $21.60 each a month on the average(barring broke down machines). Meanwhile the prison also receives funds from the State as well as the Federal Government.

This is rehabilitation not slave labor.

posted on Dec, 12 2011 @ 03:37 AM
Prison Profiteering

As more and more programs for the poor are eliminated in America due to budget cuts, the only one left standing is the most expensive one of them all: prisons. Increasingly a privatized industry, prisons are also a growth industry in America, with a new prison opening every fifteen days over the last decade. Just in 2003, statistics from the Bureau of Justice recorded the building of prisons in America as costing $60 billion.

Private Prisons Spend Millions on Lobbying to Put More People in Jail

24 June 2011

Yesterday, the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) released a report chronicling the political strategies of private prison companies "working to make money through harsh policies and longer sentences." The report's authors note that while the total number of people in prison increased less than 16 percent, the number of people held in private federal and state facilities increased by 120 and 33 percent, correspondingly. Government spending on corrections has soared since 1997 by 72 percent, up to $74 billion in 2007. And the private prison industry has raked in tremendous profits. Last year the two largest private prison companies — Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group — made over $2.9 billion in revenue.

JPI claims the private industry hasn't merely responded to the nation's incarceration woes, it has actively sought to create the market conditions (ie more prisoners) necessary to expand its business.

According to JPI, the private prison industry uses three strategies to influence public policy: lobbying, direct campaign contributions, and networking. The three main companies have contributed $835,514 to federal candidates and over $6 million to state politicians. They have also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on direct lobbying efforts. CCA has spent over $900,000 on federal lobbying and GEO spent anywhere from $120,000 to $199,992 in Florida alone during a short three-month span this year. Meanwhile, "the relationship between government officials and private prison companies has been part of the fabric of the industry from the start," notes the report. The cofounder of CCA himself used to be the chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party.

The impact that the private prison industry has had is hard to deny. In Arizona, 30 of the 36 legislators who co-sponsored the state's controversial immigration law that would undoubtedly put more immigrants behind bars received campaign contributions from private prison lobbyists or companies. Private prison businesses been involved in lobbying efforts related to a bill in Florida that would require privatizing all of the prisons in South Florida and have been heavily involved in appropriations bills on the federal level.

Tracy Velázquez, executive director of JPI recommends that we "take a hard look at what the cost of this influence is, both to taxpayers and to the community as a whole, in terms of the policies being lobbied for and the outcomes for people put in private prisons."

Prisoners Help Build Patriot Missiles

March 8, 2011 (full of links/citations)

This spring, the United Arab Emirates is expected to close a deal for $7 billion dollars’ worth of American arms. Nearly half of the cash will be spent on Patriot missiles, which cost as much as $5.9 million apiece.

But what makes those eye-popping sums even more shocking is that some of the workers manufacturing parts for those Patriot missiles are prisoners, earning as little as 23 cents an hour. (Credit Justin Rohrlich with the catch.)

The work is done by Unicor, previously known as Federal Prison Industries. It’s a government-owned corporation, established during the Depression, that employs about 20,000 inmates in 70 prisons to make everything from clothing to office furniture to solar panels to military electronics.

One of the company’s high-tech specialties: Patriot missile parts. “UNICOR/FPI supplies numerous electronic components and services for guided missiles, including the Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missile,” Unicor’s website explains. “We assemble and distribute the Intermediate Frequency Processor (IFP) for the PAC-3s seeker. The IFP receives and filters radio-frequency signals that guide the missile toward its target.”

The missiles are then marketed worldwide — sometimes by Washington’s top officials. Last year, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates pitched the Patriots to the Turkish government last year, a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks reveals: “SecDef stressed that ‘nothing can compete with the PAC-3 when it comes to capabilities.’”

Patriot assemblers Raytheon and Lockheed Martin aren’t the only defense contractors relying on prison help. As Rohrlich notes, Unicor “inmates also make cable assemblies for the McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F-15, the General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16, Bell/Textron’s Cobra helicopter, as well as electro-optical equipment for the BAE Systems Bradley Fighting Vehicle’s laser rangefinder.

Unicor used to make helmets for the military, as well. But that work was suspended when 44,000 helmets were recalled for shoddy quality.

Government agencies — with the exception of the Defense Department and the CIA — are required to buy goods from Unicor, according to a Congressional Research Service report (.pdf). And no wonder: the labor costs are bordering on zero. “Inmates earn from $0.23 per hour up to a maximum of $1.15 per hour, depending on their proficiency and educational level, among other things,” the report notes.

Last year, Unicor grossed $772 million, according to its most recent financial report (.pdf). Traditionally, inmate salaries make up about five percent of that total.

Unicor insists that the deal is a good one for inmates — and for the government. The manufacturing work offers a chance for job training, which “improves the likelihood that inmates will remain crime-free upon their release,” the company says in its report. (Some reports suggest that Unicor prisoners are as much as 24% less likely to return to crime.)

The work also keeps the inmates in check, Unicor insists. “In the face of an escalating inmate population and an increasing percentage of inmates with histories of violence, FPI’s programs have helped ease tension and avert volatile situations, thereby protecting lives and federal property,” the company says. “Prisons without meaningful activities for inmates are dangerous prisons, and dangerous prisons are expensive prisons.”

posted on Dec, 12 2011 @ 05:08 AM
This is astonishing. Sick really, but believable. The saying Money is the root of all evil certainly rings true here.

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