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How "Buy American" Mood Boosts Private Sector Use of Prison Labor
"The populist slogan 'Buy American' increasingly means buying goods produced by America’s thriving prison-based industries, says a new paper.

'The public sentiment against outsourcing has…offered prison labor programs unique opportunities for expansion under the rubric of providing a competitive alternative to low-cost foreign workers,' writes Lan Cao, a professor of international economic law at the Dale E. Fowler School of Law at Chapman University.

Cao argues that the increasing use of low-wage or free prison labor by companies seeking to manufacture in the US also calls for a re-examination of claims that such labor is rehabilitative for inmates on the grounds that it provides 'moral, psychological, and economic benefits to prisoners and communities.'

Instead, Cao maintains, the economics of prison labor programs, which are strongly focused on productivity and cost reductions, suggest that rehabilitation is at best a secondary goal to generating profit."

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