Annie McGrew and Angela Hanks

It’s Time to Stop Using Inmates for Free Labor

Last week, a Louisiana sheriff gave a press conference railing against a new prisoner release program because it cost him free labor from “some good [inmates] that we use every day to wash cars, to change oil in the cars, to cook in the kitchen.” Two days later, news broke that up to 40 percent of the firefighters battling California’s outbreak of forest fires are prison inmates working for $2 an hour. Practices like these are disturbingly common: Military gearground meatStarbucks holiday products, and McDonald’s uniforms have all been made (or are still made) with low-wage prison labor.

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