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13 Mainstream Corporations Benefiting from the Prison Industrial Complex

Prison labor in the United States is referred to as insourcing. Under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), employers receive a tax credit of $2,400 for every work-release inmate they employ as a reward for hiring “risky target groups.”

The workers are not only cheap labor, but they are considered easier to control. They also tend to be African-American males. Companies are free to avoid providing benefits like health insurance or sick days. They also don’t need to worry about unions, demands for vacation time, raises or family issues.

According to the Left Business Observer, “the federal prison industry produces 100 percent of all military helmets, war supplies and other equipment. The workers supply 98 percent of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93 percent of paints and paintbrushes; 92 percent of stove assembly; 46 percent of body armor; 36 percent of home appliances; 30 percent of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21 percent of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies and much more: prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for blind people.”

With all of that productivity, the inmates make about 90 cents to $4 a day.

Here are some of the biggest corporations to use such practices, but there are hundreds more:


Troy Moss holds a sign as he directs traffic towards parking for the site of a ground breaking ceremony of the new 20,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market scheduled to open next year in mid-town Detroit, Michigan May 14, 2012. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook (UNITED STATES - Tags: FOOD BUSINESS) - RTR32250

Whole Foods

Since 2011, Whole Foods has benefited from inmate labor, purchasing food from Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy and Quixotic Farming ; two private vendors that uses cheap prison labor to raise fish and milk and herd goats.

What people are saying

69 thoughts on “13 Mainstream Corporations Benefiting from the Prison Industrial Complex

  1. Bwire Vincent says:

    There's always a catch to what racist pigs do: The slave was freed, but the constitution stayed the same. What that means, is that under the constitution, Black man is still 3/4 human. In other words, subhuman.
    It doesn't matter how dumb, educated, wealthy, or poor you are. As long as you are Black, you are expected to perform your slavery duties, at the end of the day…

  2. Jay Contreras says:

    Thank you for this list so that I can make sure that I avoid supporting these businesses. They, like their slavery era predecessors, are making profit off of the peddling of black bodies & labor.

  3. Don't support these companies. Capitalist understand that. Economic boycotts worked in Alabama and to help dismantle apart-hate. It's about the LABOR, always has been. (Oh..and carnal gratification too) Adolph Coor (beer) said 'one of the best things slave traders did for you was to drag your ancestors over here in chains.' Hmmmnnnmmm.

  4. Anne van den Troost says:

    prisoner labor leaves the workers with no rights at all and this is all legal! how is this possible? will capitalism never end? is exploitation of the other part of human nature? how do we have to cope with all the injustice we know of today…

  5. American companies started investing and owning prisons in the u.k. In 1994 there were inmates making the boxes for Mission speakers also Denon back point being they make so many things that you probably right now use something that was made or had a part made in a jail on a daily basis.

  6. Of course someone is benefiting from this. slave labor = more profits. A few years ago Winnebago – yes the RV company – was lobbying for a prison in the same town as their main factor and would have LOVED having that slave labor force to boost their profits.

  7. I have no problem with prisoners working, learning skills and the value of work to help stop them returning to crime but this is all part of a nasty and sinister big picture.
    The sentencing of poor people in the USA is disproportionate to the crime and this is to provide cheap labour which boosts corporate profits and the incomes of the wealthy. It supplies over 2 million slaves working hard without any work rights and reduces the demand for regular workers. According to the laws of supply of demand this devalues the regular workforce who should be filling those jobs in return for a living wage, health care and self respect.
    From a corporate viewpoint this is a win/win situation. Slave labour AND the increased unemployment means reduced wages and rights to the regular workforce. This isn't just about prisoners, this is about the ultra rich keeping EVERYONE ELSE down.

  8. Hassan Abdullah says:


  9. Hassan Abdullah says:

    True so true.

  10. I'm ok with some of that s*** you know it's not hard labor or anything like that s*** what's a car so no job call center job is in bad not a question is will they hire them when they get out

  11. I don't think it's bad tire prisoners to do work like this is not hard labor and it gives them a skill but the question is will these companies hire them when they get out if the answer is no then this is a terrible terrible thing but if the answer is yes that s*** I got a job now

  12. They forgot sargento ….little ceasers…and like four more companies that hire inmates to work in factory for their products

  13. Debbie Johnson says:

    I know that Avis does not use inmates to take reservations. If that is false how many other statements here are false also.

  14. Loving Abundance says:

    Totally slave labor.

  15. Loving Abundance says:

    I say, walk away from the system now…

  16. Loving Abundance says:

    They forgot Nike, and tons more.

  17. Loving Abundance says:

    This is why black men who make up 6% of the population make up 50% of the inmates? There are over 168 million whites and only 36 million blacks and we make up most of thee prisoners.

  18. This is part of the second chance that inmates should be given everyone makes mistakes and this is a good look but I don't agree with the no raises or insurance because once they are released they should be able to keep their jobs to provide for their families

  19. Roi Ellison says:

    When i hear 3/4 human i don't take it as a n insult…remember the demi-gods and the fallen angels or the Watchers, Super Beings, Thot and all the other original men . It may sound far fetched to some however to hate someone or something so much ususually stems from either the wrongs they have done to you…or something they possess …no matter how much you tan or inject your body with you will never have naturally!!! They don't hate us because they know they are better they hate us because they know they will never be the gods and goddess they protray in the movies….just that simple!

  20. Felice Amica says:

    Some part of these articles are untrue!

  21. Tovia Scott says:

    Just wondering….how do you know?

  22. ED McFarland says:

    I'm sure they won't when they have prisoners doing time still . They pay them $23 a month , in the free world they'd have to pay them no less than minimum wage plus health insurance . You do the math . Never gonna happen Slave labor .

  23. Felice Amica says:

    Tovia Scott I have worked for a correctional state agency…the tax credit is true to hire felonys of any race… majority of the time the only jobs that are available is warehousing jobs…People need to learn to research and know the facts before believing whats on the internet OR social media..Yes it is difficult for many felons to get certain jobs because they are advised that if you have a certain charge most companies will not hire you anyways. I always harp on family in helping family members find jobs which involve networking with others and advocating for probationers/parolees. The tax credit is a good program and everything is always going to have pros and cons. I have witness when probationers/parolees and earning money to take care of their families or simply living independently and being a law abiding citizens it boost their self-esteem and the majority are young black males…

  24. this is what starting a post and then sitting on your phone looks like children. ^^

  25. Timika Brunson says:

    So they're in a position to keep jails occupied.

  26. If you don't want to do "slave labor," refrain from doing anything stupid/illegal enough to end up in prison. Problem solved.

  27. Jake Hawley says:

    Why is there no source listed for these numbers? I believe it but I'd still like to see proof

  28. Lane Small says:

    Who the hell wants to work for that though they still humans at the end of the day

  29. Laura Koscki says:

    It's time to over throw the Government, this has gone way to far! The Corporate Hitler's have hijacked our corrupt Government. Slaving for the Corporate Hitler's is simply selling our souls out for the evil elites.

  30. you clearly have not educated yourself on the exploitation of poor people.

  31. you clearly have not educated yourself on the exploitation of poor people.

  32. Seriously….have any of you considered that MAYBE just maybe they ENJOY the work? Do you also know that the inmates have to APPLY for such jobs? Do you know it is of their own free will to do these jobs? There is no prison in the USA that makes it mandatory that these in,ages do such labor. It is a PRIVILEGE for them to work! They must earn the right to work ! Do your research before you believe in this so called "Slave Labor"!

  33. Imprisonment is just a big disguise for massive slavery! The Government & corporation capitalizing on from prisoners low cost production. It's a down right dir.
    ty shame!

  34. You're right about the fact that inmates may enjoy the work and be glad to get it, that's a vaild point. What you're not getting is that a system in which large, powerful corporations have a vested interest in the availability of a large prison population to provide them with cheap labor is something that will eventually be disastrous to our economy and has clear potential for rampant corruption and brutality. Politicians, including prosecutors and judges who own stock in the companies that use prisoner labor have a lot more incentive to send people to prison as well as to keep them there for as long as possible because the more people who are in prison the more cheap labor is available and the more money these corporations and their shareholders make. I think you're probably very right about the possibility that prisoners like being able to work and earn some money, but I think that what they would like even more than that would be to be free and find the same sort of work on the outside, as well as to earn a fair day's wage for a fair day's work and be able to support themselves and their families. However, in a system where the wealthy elite (including our public servants and lawmakers) make more money when a large part of the population is locked up and less money when more people are free and therefore protected by labor laws, the people who will suffer the most will be those who have the least ability to protect themselves from malicious prosecution and human rights abuses: the blue-collar working class, the working poor, and all those existing at or below the poverty level.

  35. Unfortunately, it has never been that simple and it's not that simple now. Please take the time to read up on this situation, and try to read material presented from a number of different viewpoints. If you take the time to do this, you'll quickly see that "don't get locked up" isn't a meaningful suggestion or something any reasonable, thinking person would ever either consider as a solution to this problem. And if you DON'T care to take the time to do a bit of reading and educate yourself on this subject, then you may want to consider keeping your thoughts to yourself because you clearly have no clue what is going on.

    It's better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt ;).

  36. You forgot Whole Foods.

  37. I'm all for chain gangs . None of this nice clean easy labor you seem to think

  38. Mark Balson says:

    Felice Amica 90 ents to 4 dollars a day does not "Help support a family". The corporation that reaps the benefit reaps far more value than is ever shared with the inmates. You use the term unfortunate. It is only unfortunate is there was no way to aleviate the outcome. That is not the case here and because of that a more apt description is unconscienciable.

  39. Mark Balson says:

    What is the matter with you? Do you have to insist on bestial conditions for prisoners? You will probably claim to be a christian. Well I don't think so.

  40. UGh! Youre vast oversight Patti is the assumption that prisioners are "all criminals" or 'all guilty". These private prisons have contracts with the states they are in to have the poilice keep the prisons at capacity so they have consistant labor. United States operates a MASS INCARCERATION system. Where minimal offenses are given mandatory jail sentences of extended periods of time. This provides these private prisons with free labor that they use to cut costs. It is estimated that 623,000 of the 2.5 million people in prison are innocent of the crime they were accued of. But they were given a sentence due to contractual obligation. You are a white supremacist of the worst kind. And to add insult to injury and ignorant one at that…if that's even possible.

  41. Jen Burns says:

    Molly, it isn't a question of whether the inmates enjoy working for slave wages. The PROBLEM is that highly profitable corporations are allowed to pay Americans third world wages. Those jobs used to go to the American public. Factory workers used to make enough money to support a family. Now the richest corporations in the country, who should be providing American citizens with decent paying jobs, are hiring criminals for under $4 a DAY. It is NO ACCIDENT that America incarcerates more people than any other country – including China, which has far more people. If we didn't jail innocent people, or slap maximum sentences on minor crimes, those corporations might have to actually PAY people a decent living. Now, I'm not saying that inmates shouldn't work. And I'm not saying that murderers should be making a great living. But corporations shouldn't profit by jailing people. I propose that corporations can hire criminals at minimum wage. Most of the pay earned by said criminals can be donated to charity, or put to some good cause.

  42. This is yet another example of gross misconduct and political and judicial oppression for profit. It's interesting that the same workers that perform skilled labor jobs inside facilities are discriminated by the same companies once they are released. If they were good enough to make companies millions inside, they should be hired to maintain their families outside. This is a continuation of slavery, and anyone who justifies such barbaric and evil tactis are just as barbaric and evil.

  43. Understand the people are getting LIFE in Prison for Shoplifting, writing a attempting to cash a bad check, stealing an NFL jersey and more stupid stuff

  44. Prisoners recidivism rate about 68-70% chance in 3 years will return back to prison. This is why law enforcement already knows that 1 in 3 black men will go to prison and increase 800% of women are also going to prison

  45. Yes currently the federal goverment( ) and the pentagon contract with over 83 prison labor factories across the the country

  46. The U.S. governemtnt ( has found a loophole in the constitution of the 13th amendment as follows: Abolition of slavery and involuntary servitude except if convicted of a crime (conviction of a crime is the loophole) thereby slavery once again becomes a legal in the eys of the law. Infact major foture 500 company's are getting filthy rich from the backs of people hopefully it won't last for another 400 years.

  47. Lars Chiron Cheveyo Bohr gone as soon as you got it what makes it slavery of the worst kind.

  48. Go to will give you all the proof you need

  49. Just finished reading "A Train in Winter" about the treatment of women in the French resistence in Fascist Germany. Part of the book detailed prisoners used as slave labor by corporations. It's happening here too. Why is it the US has more prisoners per capita than any other major government today, including China? It's very profitable to have slave labor. I know that many of the fire fighters in California are prisoners. It's disturbing how fascism takes hold, one piece of legislation at a time, and through voter suppression.

  50. Paul Frank says:

    I strongly object to the exploitation of labor in prisons. That said, I have worked in government programs in the past that offered incentives to employers to hire various disadvantaged constitutencies offering them both work experience and a work history — both important to make people employable. A prospective employer after release now has someone to call to find out both what kind of person and what kind of worker that individual is. Indeed, in a significant number of cases they will end up with permanent employment with that very company. Without such incentives the individuals would have slim chances of being hired at these concerns. The employers involved appropriately see them selves as performing a community service in these situations. Because they are.

    This article is too simplistic in its lumping together all prison work programs without making an effort of distinguishing meaningful work programs from those that are simply exploitative. I see another article here announcing that Whole Foods has now stopped prison-release hires. SHAME ON FOR PRACTICING KNEE-JERK, SENSATIONALISTIC JOURNALISM AND DENYING PRISONERS MEANINGFUL WORK OPPORTUNITIES !

  51. This truly makes me wonder how many companies contribute to the police benevolent fund. Do your research, it's public record. How many of these corporate companies are contributors to police departments in high crime areas.


  53. U missed the whole point. Why are they there in the first place. U missed it.

  54. Paul Frank says:

    Ronald Keith Hayes Thank you for your comment Ronald. Incarceration in the US is indeed crazy not to mention an example of institutional racial discrimination. I have no doubt that many inmates don't belong there. In that we can find agreement.

    But the article title talks about mainstream corporations benefiting from prisoners' labor. This is a heinous practice and the problem is very real. All that being the case, to arbitrarily lump together ALL work-release programs is a horrible disservice to the prisoners efforts to reintegrate into the workforce. There are many community-minded businesses which are participating in these work-release programs, and in many cases the incentives are quite reasonable and appropriate. I see no indication that the article has made an effort to distinguish between the good citizens and the corporations exploiting the prisoners and — too often — also corrupting our elected officials for the opportunity.

    If I am missing something here I am happy to have it pointed out. But re-reviewing I am not coming up with anything new. Thanks again for your comment Ronald. Cheers, Paul

  55. Ann Parsons says:

    Law abiding Americans could use those jobs. And prices will depend on "what the market will bear." Not the cost of labor.

  56. The savings on sost of labor are never passed on to the consumer. Inmates been making licence plates for ever tags go up every time we renew. Saving go to he stock holders

  57. Ronald Keith Hayes What kinda questionis is that. People are in prison because they were convicted of committing a crime like the police convicted of rape. Everybody in pison doesn't belong there.

  58. This is horrible, these dirtbags might get some real life work skills, they could be in their cells with their homies inproving their home invasion skills or sharpening thier beatdown moves. The outrage that they might be working and learning some responsibility. What has the world come to

  59. THAT'S AMERICA! MONEY! MONEY! MONEY! they will hire the men in prisons but wont hire the same men from the ghetto!

  60. Slavery never ended. At the end of the civil war, they 13th amendment to the constitution was written. "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, EXCEPT AS PUNISHMENT OF CRIME whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

    That little loophole was intentional. Clinton passed the Violent Crime Act that ironically saw non-violent arrest and conviction soar in poor communities. By the time Clinton left office, the prison population was nearly doubled in the US. According to the FBI, the US violent crime rate has decreased by 50% in the past ten years, so ask yourself, if violent crime is down, why is our prison populations swelling? Non-violent offenders, people picked specifically to sit in prison and be slaves. The majority are able bodied men. There are laws on the books, that allow prisons to sue a state if they haven't kept the prison near 100% or more capacity. This is nothing more than institutiionalized slavery. It's sickening and it's exploded recently into disgusting amounts.

  61. Sam Brodie says:

    Raymond James you are totally wrong. Yes prisoners should be given work and that work should be meaningful. However they should not become the slaves of corporations. The community the committed crime against should benefit not share holders.

  62. If people stop identifying themselves as a separate group, they'll not be treated as such anywhere near as much. Proof: every other country with a varied ethnic makeup. Columbia, the UK, the rest of Europe…it's not a black vs white thing because the govts there aren't using them as a permanent dependent class to keep the politicians in power.

  63. Kay Lang says:

    These are cruel, evil, heartless people tthat would choose to exploit people who so badly need a helping hand to get their lives on tract. These are employees who so badly need role modles that will help them see how good life can be when people work together and respect each other. These employers represent the oigarchs that are taking over our government, our country, and our world. Americans must realize how much better it is for everyone when we live in a democracy rather than an oigarchy govenrment. Of course everyone wants vioent peoplle to be locked up, but most of those in private prisons would have been paying a fine rather than being locked up a couple of decades ago.

  64. It's disgusting and true. Employers do receive a $2400. tax credit to employ the "high risk' institutionalized obedient workers!

  65. wow,I totally agree! such a deep and systematic way to control poverty. Whoa,thanks for your comment man!

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