Federal Private Prisons and the Exploitation of Penal Laborers for Profit


September 23 | 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM | Room Ingman

Penal labor within the prison system is common, and has been subject to much controversy, especially in the last five years. While the debate is heated and complex, one commonly ignored aspect is the use of penal labor by private prisons. Private prisons make up 16% of federal prisons. Similar to federally-run prisons, private prisons use penal labor to perform “institutional maintenance” and to pay for “room and board”. Private prisons receive a static amount of federal funding to hire employees to do this work. This begs the question: How and to what extent can and do private prisons use penal labor to cut costs and increase their bottom line? This study seeks to answer this question by examining the use of penal labor in Federal Private Prisons and explores the connection between labor in these prisons and labor exploitation, forced labor, and human trafficking.

Presentation Objectives:

·         Outline the debate surrounding the use of penal labor and the laws around the use of penal labor in U.S. federal prisons;

·         Examine how private prisons make a profit and how that is connected to the use of penal labor;

·         Explore the use of penal labor in private prisons and the connection with forced labor and human trafficking;

Outline action goals and tools to address this issue of forced labor and human trafficking in federal private prisons.

About the Presenter