Prisoners paid pennies worth, advocates question exploitation

DELAMRVA – Incarcerated individuals produce about 11 billion dollars in goods and services annually, according to a report conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union.

They only receive pennies on the dollar, which could be anywhere between 15 cents and 52 cents of pay for their labor. Mike Brickner, the Executive Director of the ACLU tells us often times inmates can be the breadwinners for their families and that money is relied on. Brickner explains why it’s important that inmates have this work opportunity and get properly paid.

“You know may of them actually really enjoy the programs because it gives them something to do during the day it helps them, oftentimes learn a skill to be successful when they do leave prison,” says Mike Brickner.

He also tells 47 ABC when in prison their money helps them pay for personal items and even stamps to send mail out. Inmate pay may be low but Brickner says good can come out of proper pay and even help those outside of the prison gates.

“We have to make sure that those programs then don’t go into that exploitative territory, where the proceeds go to the prison system and its actually going to family members, to the person whose actually doing the labor and also even to the victims and the survivors of the crime,” says Mike Brickner, Executive Director.

Brickner says this can easily be exploitative work however, these options should be made available to inmates to ensure their hard work is honored.

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