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NewDeal_Dem

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Member since: Wed Dec 10, 2014, 12:21 AM
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Broken prison labor program fails to keep promises, costs millions

The Seattle Times

Three decades ago, as get-tough-on-crime laws channeled more offenders behind bars, the state Department of Corrections launched a campaign to leverage profits from prisoners.

Compel inmates to produce low-cost goods for state agencies at no public cost. Teach offenders new skills to help them land better jobs after release. Turn bad people into better people and reduce crime...

Today, some 1,600 incarcerated men and women in prison factories produce everything from dorm furniture to school lunches. Washington Correctional Industries (CI) generates up to $70 million in sales a year, ranking as the nationís fourth-largest prison labor program.

But behind CIís glossy brochures and polished YouTube videos is a broken program that has cost taxpayers millions of dollars, charged exorbitant markups to state agencies to make up for losses, and taken jobs from private businesses that canít compete with cheap prison labor, a Seattle Times investigation has found.

Far from being self-sufficient, CI has cost taxpayers at least $20 million since 2007...CI has reaped millions of dollars ó money it keeps ó by inflating prices of furniture it sells to state agencies and public universities, capitalizing on a law that requires they buy from prison factories. In many cases, prisoners didnít make the items, but CI instead bought prebuilt furniture then resold it with markups, previously undisclosed state records show.

http://projects.seattletimes.com/2014/prison-labor/1/


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