Prison Factories jobs
10:10 am
Sun November 4, 2012

Prison Factories Caught In Private Biz Debate

One of the nation's toughest periods of unemployment is drawing prison factories into the jbos debate.
One of the nation's toughest periods of unemployment is drawing prison factories into the jbos debate.
Credit Daniel Lobo / Flickr

Factories that employ convicted felons are at the heart of a simmering debate about whether prisons should be siphoning away jobs — at much lower wages — that could be filled by those who need them during the nation's toughest period of unemployment in decades.

Congressional Republicans, a handful of Democrats and private-industry critics want to clamp down on Unicor. That is the trade name of Federal Prison Industries. Almost 13,000 inmates work in federal lockups for a few dollars a day, making everything from military uniforms to office furniture.

Critics say Unicor undercuts private companies because of lower operating costs and laws that require federal agencies to use inmate-produced products when able.

Corrections officials say the program teaches prisoners invaluable job skills and personal discipline that cuts down on their return to prison.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.