Prison Labor and Economics in California: Who Really Profits?
There's a little over 4,200 prisoners at this institution. About 200 or more of these prisoners are level one. They are housed outside the gun towered perimeter, in what they call the minimum support facility. All of these prisoners have jobs consisting of laborer positions, from warehouse workers to clean up crews and landscaping, their wages are at a maximum of 13 cents an hour. Other jobs include dump/garbage truck drivers and car/truck maintenance. These other prisoners cannot earn more than 32 cents an hour. The rest of the population is level IV prisoners housed in A, B, C and D facilities, and two ASUs (D facility is SNY). With the exception of facility D, which has a joint venture program where about 100 prisoners earn the minimum wage. There are no other type of jobs in any of the other facilities, with the exception of support services positions such as yard clean up crews, kitchen, chow hall and a few clerical positions in education, program office, canteen, and law library. There would probably be somewhere around 150 job positions per facility with only about half of these positions being pay numbers earning anywhere from 8 cents to 32 cents an hour.
Yes, pay numbers are a joke throughout California prisons, and yes, we are being exploited to a certain degree, but not in the way that you may think. Profits are being made not so much from prisoner labor but from filling up the bed space in all of these prisons. Each prison creates more than 1,000 job positions with prison guards and medical staff being the highest number and receiving payment at about close to $50 an hour plus overtime. And it is my belief that besides the heads of the CDC, it is the prison guard's union that is profiting the most from our incarceration.
It is no wonder they always spend millions of dollars to kill every proposition or assembly bill that goes on the ballot concerning reduction of prisoner sentences or amendments to modify their biggest accomplishment, the three strikes law. Many people benefit from crime (police officers, public defenders, district attorneys, judges, etc.), and from incarceration in state prison, the matter at issue here. All these people in turn spend money and contribute to the imperialist economy. Then, there come the contracts each warden has with many different food suppliers where a lot of money is being handed down under the table. Also, the contracts with the phone company and package vendors where a lot of kick backs go to wardens or other head officials within the CDC. So as you can see, everybody's a winner in this game except us of course. With the biggest winner being the imperialist government, followed by CDC head officials and the prison guard's union being the ones getting the biggest piece of the pie.