Criminal Justice in America


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Prison industries have become common in the United States. This is because of the high demand of cheap labor and services in the country. Most people have realized the benefits that result from prison industries. For instance, prison industries are a major source of cheap labor in the country. Most of the companies rely on prisoners to carry out various activities in the country. The companies have replaced their employees with prisoner workers as they are readily available always. In addition, prisoners help improve productivity in the organization as the organizations use cheap labor and are able to achieve organizational goals. They also help make the prisoners become use3ful people in the society.

The prison industries help prisoners acquire new skills and improve their skills. It also helps the prisoners avoid criminal activities. This is according to a series of studies. The studies have shown that criminals who have worked in prison industries are less likely to participate in criminal activities as they are able to live an independent life. In addition, prison industries help improve economic growth in the country as the income generated is used to carry out various activities in the country. For instance, it is used to pay public workers in the prisons. It also used to cater for the financial needs of the prisoners. Most of the prisoners are able to pay their fine using the income they earn. Though prison industries have contributed a lot in many countries, most of the human rights organizations do not support the move.

The organizations argue that most of the industries exploit prisoners and hence affect their rights. Labor unions claim that prison industries have brought competition in the industry and affected other companies in the country. This is because of cheap labor and cost effectiveness. They also claim prison workers are not government employees and thus are not entitled to employee benefits. Hence, prison industries have become a major issue in the society for the last two decades. This is because people have different views about prison industries. Some think, prison industries are useful to the country and the prisoners like other businesses. Others think, the prison industries are not important as they interfere with human rights. This paper analyzes the prison industries.


Most people argue that prison labor originated from slavery. After the civil war, a method to hire prisoners was introduced in the country. That was between 1861 and 1865.The system was aimed at enhancing slavery in the country. Slaves who were freed during this time were not allowed to work so as to get some harvest. Instead, the slaves were hired to work in cotton plantations, mines and construct railroads. Most of the people who were hired in Georgia were blacks. That was between 1870 and 1910.Also, 93% of the slaves who were hired to work in the mines were blacks (Cole &Smith, 2006). In Mississippi the slavery traditions   were replaced by a prison farm. The prison industries are believed   to have started in the 19th century as a result of the introduction of the New York get tough state prison Auburn. During this time the inmates worked in various workshops that had been introduced in the prison. They also fed together in the dining hall, but slept in different rooms.

The auburn prison was formed due to the moral resistance of the inmates. The prison was aimed at replacing rehabilitation of criminals with confinement of the criminals and punishment (Cole &Smith, 2006). During the 1980s, the United States started privatizing prisons in the country due to the high cost of maintenance. The government was not able to maintain the prison due to lack of enough finances. In addition, the government found it hard to meet the needs of the prisoners due to budget constraints. The privatization of orison reached its heights around 1990.Diring this time president Clinton wanted to reduce the number of workers in the country. He introduced a program to reduce the federal workers. The move forced the federal government tohire private prison firms for the incarnation of workers who had no documents and inmates. Since then the number of private prisons in the country increased as people wanted to reduce overcrowding in the prisons. The number of private prisons is more than the number of public prisons in the prison industry.

About 18 firms   protect more than 10,000 prisoners in more than 27 states (Cole &Smith, 2007). There are two largest prisons in the country which manage 75% of the prisoners. That is the correctional corporation of America and the Wackenhut. The private prisons in the country receive a certain amount of money for each inmate. The amount is different from what is used to maintain them. Most of the private prisons in the prison industry have devised strategies to make them reduce operational costs and remain competitive. First, the private prisons ensure they have few guards and more prisoners. For instance, the CCA prison in Virginia has seven guards and 750 inmates. This has helped the prison maintain the operational cost as low as possible also meet the needs of the inmates (Thomas &Thomas, 2008)

Since, then most of the prisons in the country have been privatized. The major employer of prisoners in United States is the federal prison industries abbreviated as (UNICOR).The federal prison industries has more than 18,000 prisoners. The prisoners make more than 150 products. The products include safety glasses and road signs. Other products are body armor and force jet wiring. The number of prisoners employed in the federal prison industries and private prison industries is almost 72,000.This is as a result of the increase in number of prisoners in the country. The number of criminals in most of the prisons in the country has doubled for the last two decades. This is because of the conviction of criminals who have committed minor crimes. This has given the private prison industries and federal prison industries an opportunity to employee more prisoners than before (Thomas &Thomas, 2008).

Though the federal prison industries manufacture a wide range of products, the products are of low quality compared to the products manufactured by private prison industries. In addition, the products produced by the federal prison industries cost more than the products produced in the private industries and they also have high level of defaults. Moreover, the products take long to be procured compared to the products from private industries. There are various reasons that have led to the numerous challenges in the federal prison industries. First, most of the correctional officers are not able to manage the inmate labor in the industries and hence poor quality products. Also, the officers fear that the products that are made at home will be fashioned into fire arms and used to attack them. This has led to lack of corporation between the officers and the prisoners and affected products made from the federal prison industries (Thomas &Thomas, 2008).

The main purpose of the prison industries is to keep prisoners occupied in and out of the cell with various activities that are beneficial. In addition, the prison industries are aimed at improving the skills of the prisoners and also help them achieve new skills. The prison industries expose the prisoners to a wide range of activities that help them improve existing skills and acquire new skills. For instance, the prisoners develop furniture and electronic products. They are also involved in the management of fleet. Apart from improving their skills, the prison industries   help the prisoners improve their qualifications and work experience which places them at a better position to get employment after being released. This has a lot of advantages to the prisoners and the society in general. For instance, it helps reduce the rate of crime in the society by turning criminals into useful people in the society. Most researchers argue that employment is an important factor in preventing criminals from committing crime again. This is because employment helps prisoners get the right skills to get employment. The main aim of the United States government is to provide inmates with the necessary skills and motivation to help them turn away from criminal activities and improve the prisoners employ ability. Hence, the high growth rate in prison industries (Thomas &Thomas, 2008).

Prison industries provide support top public sector prisons. For instance, the prison industries help in the management of industrial workshop in the public sector prisons. Additionally, the prison industries facilitate and coordinate the production of goods in the workshop and supply of important clothing and goods for consumption. Hence help the prisoners acquire new skills. There are more than 300 workshops   in the prisons that employ more than 10,000 prisoners   every week. The prisoners are employed in various disciplines in the prison. For instance, the prisoners are employed to produce goods for internal market. For instance, the prisoners produce clothes, manufacture furniture and offer laundry services. The goods produced by the prisoners are used in the prison. Apart from producing goods for use in the prison, prisoners produce a wide range of products to use in the national offender management services and ministry of justice. They also offer various services   in the ministry of justice. For example, the prisoners produce office furniture for use in the offices. They also offer printing services.

For the last ten years, the prison service has worked hard to improve various industries in the prison system.  The prison service has replaced traditional services in the industries with modern services. For example, it has replaced weaving with printing workshops. This is to ensure the prison industries are inline with the changes in the society and technology. The prison industries have integrated a quality assurance system in its office and other manufacturing facilities so as to improve the quality of services offered in the industries (Thomas &Thomas, 2008).

Though prison industries have a lot of benefits, most people have opposed them. For instance, human rights groups do not support the use of prison industries in the country. The human rights organizations argue that prison industries have led to human exploitation   in the country. The human rights organizations argue that more than 2 million prisoners mostly blacks and Hispanics are working in different industries for free. Most of the people who have invested in the prison industries have depended on prisoners   as the main source of labor. There are various factors that make the investors depend on prisoners. First, prisoners are a cheap source of labor as they are readily available and also do not require to be paid highly like other people in the society. This makes it easy for the investors to save money and invest in other areas.

In addition, the investors use prisoners as the main source of labor as they do not have to pay unemployment insurance .Instead, the investors concentrate on achieving their organizational goals. Moreover, the investors use prisoners because they are able to work fulltime. Most of the prisoners work in the industries allocated fulltime and this makes it easy for investors to avoid human resource problems like absenteeism and high employee turn over. If the prisoners refuse to work or do not agree to be paid 25 cents per hour, then they are locked up in cells that are isolated (Siegel, 2008).. Most human rights organizations have claimed that the investors exploit prisoners instead of assisting them to acquire new skills or improve their life. This is because the prisoners get substandard salaries and the working conditions are not fit.

The human rights groups, political and social parties argue that the population of inmates   in federal and private prisons in the country is almost 2 million. This is according to a report released by California prison focus. The California prison focus argued that there is no other country in the world that has imprisoned its citizens like United States. Several criminal justice studies have shown that United States is the only country in the worlds that has a high rate of inmates. This is because the country imprisons citizens who have committed minor crimes that do not require sentencing. For instance, the report showed that United States has imprisoned half a million people more than china though it has the largest population in the world.

The population of china is five times the population of United States, but the number of prisoners in the country is low. The population of prisoners in the country in 1972 was 300,000.The population has grown greatly since 1972 as in 2000, the population of inmates was 2million.In 1990, and the population was only one million. Between 1990 and 2000, the number of private prisons in the country was 9 each having 2,000 prisoners, but the number has increased to 100 prisons for the last ten years each having more than 62,000 prisoners. The reporters from the California prison focus argue that the number of prisons is likely to increase due to increase in demand of cheap labor in the person industries (Siegel, 2008).

A large percentage of human rights organizations, social organizations and political organizations link the growth of prisons in the country with the growth of prison industries. The groups claim that the contracting of prisoners to work in private prison industries and public prison industries has led to increase in number of prisons. The need for prisoners to work in the prison industries has led to more people being imprisoned. Most of the prisons in the country depend on income from the prison industries. For instance, the prisons rely on income from the industries to manage the prison and satisfy the needs of the prisoners. Hence, the prisons have to employ prisoners in the federal prison industries and state prison industries. This has led to increase in number of prisoners convicted as the industries need constant supply of labor so as to meet their goals. Also, corporate stockholders rely on prisoners as the source of labor. The groups claim that this has led to increase in inmates as the stockholders lobby for inmates to be sentenced for longer. This is to ensure the stockholders have enough workers and the workers are available all the time (Great Britain. Parliament &House of Commons. Home Affairs Committee, 2005).

The jailing of people convicted for non violent crimes and long sentences has resulted to the high number of prisons. Most people who have small amounts of illegal drugs are being imprisoned for long than required. The federal law allows the courts to imprison people who posses small amounts of drugs for five years without any parole. For instance, people who posses 5 grams of cocaine are imprisoned for five years. On the other hand, people who have 3.5 grams of heroin are imprisoned for ten years. This is in contrast to what is expected. A five years imprisonment is made for 500 grams of cocaine. Most of the people in United States use cocaine powder. For instance, the whites and the rich use cocaine powder and are rarely convicted. Most of the blacks and Latinos use crock cocaine and are imprisoned for five years or more. In Texas, people who posses 4 ounces of marijuana are imprisoned for two years. In New York, people who posses harmful drugs are imprisoned for more than 15 years.

The criminals can also be imprisoned   for life. The difference in the rate of imprisonment time is aimed at providing constant labor to the stockholders and the prison industries and hence, constant income (Great Britain. Parliament &House of Commons. Home Affairs Committee, 2005). The human rights organizations argue that the prison industries affect the imprisonment of criminals. This is because the court has to ensure most of the criminals who are brought before the courts are imprisoned for long so as to create a source of labor. This has in turn affected the human rights accorded to criminals in the constitution.

The opponents of prison industries also argue that the prison industries interfere with employment in the private sector and also public sector. This is because the prison industries employ prisoners instead of other people. This has led to competition in the industry as the prison industries are able to access cheap labor. They also claim that the industries affect economic growth by introducing cheap labor and causing competition.

Further, the opponents of the prison industries argue that the low labor costs give prison industries unfair advantages in the industry. This is because the prison industries are able to access cheap labor compared to other industries. This is because they have enough number of inmates who are available to work any time. In addition, the prison industries do not have human resource issues. For instance, they do not have diversity issues, high employee turn over and also work environment issues. This has made it easy for the prison industries to achieve competitive advantage and also be able to achieve their objectives. On the other hand, other industries do not have access to cheap labor as they have to invest heavily on labor. Some of the firms in the industries are not able to do so due to financial difficulties. Hence, this affects productivity and the overall goal in the organization. Increase in labor costs, increases the cost of production and operational costs in the organization. Thus, the industries do not benefit from cheap labor and think the move is unfair (Price, 2006).

Labor unions in the country do not support prison industries as they affect other industries. Prison industries have forced other industries in the country to cut their labor costs and provide good working conditions so as  to avoid loose of job. The labor unions argue that inmate workers should not be given employee benefits like other workers in the country because they are not government employees. However, a series of cases in different states have proved that inmate workers are entitled to various benefits as they are part of government employees. For instance an Arizona case in 1992 proved that more than 600 inmates working in the correctional industries in Arizona were state employees. Thus, they were entitled to get benefits and were subject to the Fair labor standard act provisions (Cole &Smith, 2007).

Most people argue that the prison industries do not lead to shortage of labor in the private sector as stated above. They argue that the number of jobs lost in the private sector is small compared to the number of jobs lost in the prison industries. Further, they argue that the jobs created by prison industries are different from the jobs created by the private sector .Hence, the prison industries do not lead to loose of jobs. Studies have shown that prison industries produce 3% fewer jobs in the private sector, but they increase the income of non prisoners who are employed by 15%. Most of the people argue that they are loosing jobs to inmate workers. This is because most companies have opted to get cheap labor from prisons. This has forced the companies to lay off their workers so as to be able to employ prisoners. Prison labor is cheap as an inmate can get .23 cents per hour or a few dollars each hour compared to other workers. The workers get $8 to $12 dollars   per hours while doing the same job as the inmate.

The high cost of labor in the companies has led to termination of employees and hiring of inmates. Though the jobs are lost, others are still created. Inmates are supposed to engage in constructive activities like other people as stated by the law (Price, 2006). Most laws in different countries require inmates to participate in productive activities like working in the industries. The inmates produce different types of goods in different fields. Apart from the prisoners, other people work hand in hand with the prison industries to ensure enough production, transportation and distribution of goods produced. For instance, the prison industries create other jobs as other workers transport the goods and also distribute them. In addition, the prison industries create more jobs by buying raw materials from various companies. Purchasing and delivering of raw materials enables people to get jobs. Hence, the prison industries help increase the number of jobs in the country and reduce unemployment rate in the country (Cole &Smith, 2007).

Many companies argue that they are loosing business operations to prison industries in the country. This is because of the stiff competition that results from prison industries. Most of the prison industries in the country are able to produce goods that are produced in other industries. Goods produced by prison industries are cheap compared to good produced by other industries. This has led to increase in demand for goods produced from prison industries. Though most people argue that prison industries affect economic growth, it is not true. Most economists argue that giving work to the most cost effective   producer does not harm the economy, but it contributes to economic growth. Most companies prefer to work with various prisons in the country as they are able to reduce the production costs, labor costs and operational cost. Most people see the prison industries   being cost effective. This is because they produce a wide range of products at a cheaper cost than other firms and this helps in economic growth (Price, 2006).

Prison industries have helped the country overcome issues resulting from lack of enough work forces by employing inmates. The income generated from employing inmates is high. This has forced most states to employ inmates in prison industries and other industries. For instance, the Ohio state employee inmates in various industries and it had a positive impact. For instance, it increased the output in the state to approximately $39 million. In addition, it increased income in the private sector by &15million.Also, it led to the creation of more than 322 jobs in the private sector. The Ohio state employed more than 2000 prisoners at an income of almost 1.5 million (Cole &Smith, 2006).

Further, most people think the prison industries are not exploiting the prisoners as stated by human rights groups. This is because the prison industries contribute a lot to the welfare of the prisoners and the economic growth in the country. The prison industries help enhance the welfare of the inmates in various ways. First, the prison industries help the inmates acquire new skills and improve existing skills. This enables them get jobs after being released. It also helps prevent the inmate from committing more crime in the society as they are modeled into useful people who can live independently. Studies have shown that prisoners who participate in vocational training and work in prison industries programs are less likely to perform crime when released than prisoners who do not. The researchers argue that 24% of the inmates who participate in prison industries programs are less likely to commit crime again.Also, 14% of the prisoners are likely to be employed in various industries after being released. The studies also showed that most of the minorities were not able to repeat unethical behaviors when released from prison as they benefited a lot from the prison industries program (Cole &Smith, 2006).

It also helps the inmates get a source of income as most of the prison industries pay the inmates. Apart from the benefits above, the prison industry has contributed a lot to economic growth in the country .Like other industries; the prison industries contribute enough income to the government. Prisoners who are productive have contributed a lot to the United States economy. The inmates have helped generate private sector demand. In addition, a certain percentage of the sales revenue generated from federal prison industries is used to enhance economic growth in the country.73 cents on the dollar is used to buy raw materials, supplies and services for public companies. It is also used to buy equipment that can be used from commercial firms in the country. This in turn creates private sector jobs.20 cents are used to pay salaries and benefits for civil servants who train and supervise the prison workers.

The inmates are paid 70 cents. Prisoners who are working under the federal prison industries are supposed to pay 50 cents. The money paid is used to meet the financial needs of the inmates. For instance, it is used to pay their fine and care for their families. The UNI COR has noted that prison industries   contribute 100% of military   helmets, belts and bullet proof vests. They also produce ID tags, shirts, tents, bags and other things that are used by the military. Also, the prison industries offer 98% of equipment assembly services in the country. This is because they have competent prisoner workers who are able to assemble equipment. Additionally, the prison industries account for 98% of production of paints and brushes in the country. They also account for 90% of industries that offer assembling services like assembling stoves etc (Pollock, 1997).

States that have implemented prison labor have realized the benefits associated with prison labor. For instance, Prison industries contributed more than 1.2 million in terms of income to Ohio State. This has enabled the state to manage the prisons well. It has also enabled the state to meet the needs of the inmates. Hence, prison industries have a lot of advantages. This is according to UNI COR report on prison industries in 2001.Hence, prisoners have the right to work like other people so long as they are productive (Cole &Smith, 2006).

Though people have different views about the prison industry, the prison industry is considered one of the fast growing industries in the country. Most of the people have decided to invest in prison industries due to its success. As a result, most of the 37 states in the country have legalized the contraction of prison labor by private companies. The companies carry out their operations inside the prisons. Most of the top companies in the country have benefited from prison labor. For instance, IBM, Motorola and Microsoft have started workshops in various prisons (Pollock, 1997).

In addition, Boeing, AT$T, Dell, Compaq and Hewlett Packard   have also developed various workshops in different prisons. The companies have realized the economic benefits that result from prison labor. For instance, the companies have been able to increase their profits using cheap labor. They have also been able to increase productivity and compete with other firms in the industry. Between 1980 and 1994, the profits resulting from prison labor increased from $392 million in 1980 to $1.31 million in 1994.In mastes who are employed in state prison industries   receive $2 each hour while prisoners in private prisons get the least pay. The prisoners get 17 cents each hour which amounts to $20 in a month. The most paying private prison   in the country is CCA prison in Tennessee. Prisoners in CCA prison get 50 cents each hour as they are highly skilled. Prisoners find working in federal prisons more beneficial than working in private prisons as they earn more money.

The availability of prison Labor in United States has made the country a good investment place. Most of the investors have decided to shift their companies from the previous locations to places near prisons. For instance, company operating an assembly plant in Mexico closed its activities and moved to San Quentin state prison to get cheap labor. Also, most of the companies have fired their workers and recruited inmate workers from various prisons. For instance, IBM and Compaq rely on inmate workers to assemble circuit boards. The good profits in the prison industry have led to import and export of inmates. Most countries have started to import prisoners who are serving life sentence and also serving long sentences. They have also imported worst inmates.For instance, when a judge in Texas prison ruled that overcrowding in the prison was bad and unethical, the CCA signed a contract with the prison to construct new jails and share the profits with the prison. The creation of new jails in CCA to transfer the inmates was backed by many investors. Majority of the investors prefer to invest in the prison industries as they are promising (Pollock, 1997).

Though, the prison industry is growing fast, it might be affected by the negatives views people have about prison industries. Most human rights groups and other people have criticized the prison industries for the last four decades. This is because they see prison employment as an oppression and exploitation of the prisoners. This has forced the government to hide the prison labor from the public. Most researchers argue that hiding the prison labor from the public might affect the industry. This is because people will not notice the importance of the prison industries and this will lead to low investment or no investment at all. It will also lead to shortage of prison labor and affect economic growth in the country. The researchers argue that the government should value prison industries so as to avoid negative publicity. There are various ways that the government can help human rights groups and other people realize the importance of prison industries. First, they should educate the public on the importance of public industries on moralizing criminals.

Prison industries help turn criminals to important people who have ambitions and are able to work. It also helps criminals become independent as they have enough source of income. Hence, the state should ensure human rights groups and other people in the society realize the prison industries do not affect the rights of the criminals as they have a right to work if they are able. Moreover, the government should user the products produced by prison industries to educate the society on the importance of the industries. The moralization of the prison industries has contributed to the growth of the industry and production of various products available in the market. Moralizing the industry further will lead to more growth and survival. The prison industry is expected to grow in future if things go well (Pollock, 1997).


Prison industries and prison labor is not a new practice. The practice started in the 19th century when companies started to hire prisoners. Though many people do not support prison industries, the industries have numerous benefits as shown above. There are various reasons why the government should encourage prison industries. First, the state should encourage prison industries as they help improve the skills of the prisoners. The prison industries offer an opportunity for prisoners to learn new concepts and improve the skills they already have. This has a lot if benefits to the society and the individual. Acquiring new skills helps prepare the prisoner for employment opportunities outside.

Prisoners who have worked in prison industries are likely to get jobs when they are released. This is because they have a wide range of skills. In addition, working in the orison industries helps the prisoners avoid criminal behaviors when released. A series of studies have shown that criminals who have worked in the prison industry programs are less likely to be involved in criminal activities. This is because the criminals learn how to be independent and earn income using the skills they have. This in turn helps reduce crimes in the society. Apart from deterring the prisoners, prison industries have also helped improve economic growth. Prison industries are considered cost effective as they have access to cheap labor and hence the production cost is also low. This in turn increases profits. The prison industries help make some if the sectors in the country self sufficient and thus the government should support them.

Most people do not support prison industries because of various reasons. Most human rights groups and other organizations argue that prison industries are aimed at exploiting the prisoners by providing cheap labor. They argue that this infringes the rights of the prisoners as they are exploited and oppressed. Others argue that prison industries lead to loose of jobs as most companies have laid their workers and employed prisoners. This is because the prisoners offer cheap source of labor and this helps the companies reduce production costs. But, in the real sense, prison industries help in eliminating unemployment in the country. This is because the prison industries depend on other workers to meet their goals. For instance, they depend on works in companies offering raw materials to get raw materials. They also depend on transport companies to transport the manufactured goods. Lastly, they depend on distributors to distribute goods. Most companies and labor parties have accused prison industries for causing unwanted competition in the industry as they have enough access to cheap labor. Despite the difference in views, the government should support development of prison industries as they are important to economic growth and unemployment in the country.


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James Peter is the author and is associated with which is a global custom thesis writing  provider. If you would like help in essays, research papers, term papers and dissertations, you can visit BestEssaySite.Com

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