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Captive Labor: Exploitation of Incarcerated Workers

“Our nation incarcerates more than 1.2 million people in state and federal prisons, and two out of three of these incarcerated people are also workers. In most instances, the jobs these nearly 800,000 incarcerated workers have look similar to those of millions of people working on the outside. But there are two crucial differences: Incarcerated workers are under the complete control of their employers, and they have been stripped of even the most minimal protections against labor exploitation and abuse. A new ACLU report, Captive Labor: Exploitation of Incarcerated Workers, explores the use of prison labor nationwide…Today, more than 76 percent of incarcerated workers surveyed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics say that they are required to work or face additional punishment such as solitary confinement, denial of opportunities to reduce their sentence, and loss of family visitation. They have no right to choose what type of work they do and are subject to arbitrary, discriminatory, and punitive decisions by the prison administrators who select their work assignments.U.S. law also explicitly excludes incarcerated workers from the most universally recognized workplace protections. Incarcerated workers are not covered by minimum wage laws or overtime protection, are not afforded the right to unionize, and are denied workplace safety guarantees…”

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