Gina Vivinetto’s Greatest Hits

Did a prisoner pack your bag of Starbucks?

The Mother Jones web site has a great piece about corporations farming out important tasks to United States prisoners.

Inmates across America do everything from process meat and dairy products (from animals raised in jail) to package holiday bags of Starbucks coffee and Nintendo GameBoy devices. Most of the work is handed down to inmates from the corporations’ subcontractors. That’s how Washington prisoners in the 1990s ended up shrink-wrapping Microsoft mouses and software. In 2003, Dell had prisoners recycling PCs, but were forced to stop by a watchdog group that said the prisoners might have been exposed to toxins.

Other companies with inmates on the payroll include Costco, JanSport, and the United States government who has prisoners producing not just uniforms and bedding for soldiers, but producing missile cables and cutting airplane components for use in combat.

The prisoners are ideal workers because they’re cheap. Their wages per hour are a fraction of what an ordinary worker earns. Gives all new meaning to Made In America, huh?

WEIRD: In the 1990s female prisoners were hired to sew lingerie for Victoria’s Secret. Think about that the next time you drop $100 on your cute new bra.

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