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Abstract

Throughout the United States, United Kingdom, China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, prisoners are employed for less than $1 per hour in agriculture, manufacturing, public works projects, and dozens of other industries. The privately owned prison companies Corrections Corporation of America, G4S, Sodexo Justice Services, and Serco vie for government contracts to build, staff, and regulate prisons and prisoners. Other entities, such as China’s Laogai and The USA’s Federal Prison Industries, are ingrained into the national government. Prisoner labor produces billions of dollars in goods and services every year. When crime and recidivism increase, for-profit prisons receive inexpensive laborers. This situation creates a clear conflict of interests. The financial incentive to re-incarcerate and use prisoners for their labor directly conflicts with the prisons’ primary goal of housing and rehabilitating prisoners until they can return to the civilian world. This study focuses on recidivism rather than crime in order to measure the effect convict labor has on convicts who pass through a for-profit prison.

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