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By Friedrich Wilhelm Riegels

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The advantages to society of prison jobs vastly outweigh any disadvantages. Inmates are eager to work for a variety of reasons: to relieve monotony, to earn money wages, to claim good time credit and early release. What about prisoner wages? Let them be flexible and set competitively. Prisoners and prison labor pools expected to yield low value added will attract low offers and vice versa for high value. ), inmates can be competent, given close supervision and clear work standards. We can put many of the problems of prison industry into better competitive hands.

Today’s renewed interest in prison labor stems from the tremendous increases in the prisoner population, the diminished belief that prisons can reform prisoners and an American business community unafraid of competition from labor intensive products best suited to prisons and typically produced offshore. Progress has been slow, both because of the PIE program’s many constraints and because increasing work for convicts has not had a high priority with either government officials or private sector businesses.

These factors include security problems, high turnover, lack of skills, poor work habits and remote prison locations. A large percentage of inmates are illiterate or semiliterate. Prison labor usually is only suitable for labor intensive, low-skilled work, at least on a large scale. In general, profit is no more easily achieved in prison than out. If convict labor is cheaper than civilian labor, it is because the entrepreneur hiring the labor expects it to be less productive. State and federal prison systems control a huge asset, convict labor and largely waste its productive potential.

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Aerofoil Sections: Results from Wind-Tunnel Investigations,Theoretical Foundations by Friedrich Wilhelm Riegels

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