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Many have read my previous diary entries on the subject of prison labor, and just recently about the Georgia Prisoner's Strike for wages. One of the arguments prison industry, Department of Justice (DOJ) and Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)authorities like to use to counter my assertions that using inmates in prison production is "Slave Labor", is that they are providing training. The argue that by providing this "training" they are helping those inmates involved in prison labor to secure employment upon release. In addition they throw around "statistics" and fund "studies" that claim recidivism is reduced and  thus the PIECP program is working.

This is all more or less bullshit spewed by bureaucrats to keep us funding and accepting the program and their abusing inmates in it. I would call it propaganda but then I'd be accused of being politically incorrect.

Let me begin by once again providing this linkto a short video (it takes a few seconds to load from their server, be patient) produced by the National Correctional Industries Association (NCIA) in cooperation with the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the DOJ. As the video demonstrates, there is an inference of "training" inmates involved but the entire video is designed to attract private sector companies to re-locate their operations to prison industries. The statement: "...chances are there's a nearby correctional facility that can supply dependable labor, enhance your competitiveness and increase your profitability...be part of an aggressive business solution...call us," has nothing to do with training - except to the extent necessary to allow the best possible profits through high output production.

This recruiting tool did not ask prospective companies to move their operations behind prison fences and walls to provide training to incarcerated men and women. No, it was to pull labor from the civilian market by promising to "enhance competitiveness" and to "increase profitability" to companies looking to reduce their operational expenses.

So training is not the purpose of the PIE program (as it is now run) it is to provide corporations with a labor force working for pennies on the dollar. The end result is that their competing manufacturers in the private sector are disadvantaged and from reduced sales, more wages depressed and jobs lost.

How about the second claim: the PIE program reduces recidivism? Simply more double speak ca ca put out there, again to convince us that this federally run program is working - when it clearly is not. To demonstrate this clearly, lets look at the actual facts and statistics provided by one of the main prison industry "players" own records. Below are statements, figures and statistics taken from the Florida Department of Corrections' (FDOC)2008 records on inmates released:

"Inmate Releases
37,391 Inmates Released"

"This section includes statistics on the number of inmates who were released from the Florida prison system during the period of July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009. Time served refers to the percentage of sentence that inmates actually served in prison, plus credit for jail time, compared to their sentence length. For example, an inmate may have been sentenced to 10 years in prison, but his actual time served will be about eight and a half years, once his gain time has been subtracted from his sentence.

In FY 2008-09, 37,391 offenders were released from Florida’s prisons."

"During that fiscal period 37,391 inmates were released from prison in Florida. During that same period let's look at the statistics of PRIDE:

"According to PRIDE’s 2008 Annual Report, PRIDE inmates worked over 3.9 million hours producing goods and services.  3,961 inmates worked for PRIDE during the year in 39 diverse industries, farms, and operations located in various correctional institutions across the state. Many of these inmates were trained in modern high technology trades including print and digital information, garments and apparel, furniture manufacturing, vehicle renovation, metal fabrication, as well as dental and optical laboratories.

"According to PRIDE’s 2008 Annual Report, 2008 saw a 21% increase in the number of transition program participants, from 454 to 550.  62% of PRIDE-trained former inmates were placed in jobs. After 6 months, 73% were still employed.  In addition, for 2008, the recidivism rate (return to prison for the commission of a new crime within two years) of former PRIDE inmate workers was 14%."

Okay I know there are lots of you out there good with math. Do you see the disparity? If not let's dig into the figures provided. A total of 37,391 inmates released. Of those, 550 were current or former inmates assigned to PRIDE when released and they represent .015% of the total inmates discharged. Of the 550 inmates released, 62% - or 341 inmates - received jobs, which represents a whopping .009% of those released. So if my math is anywhere close 9/10 of 1% of all inmates released in the 08-09 fiscal period received jobs.

For recidivism figures the FDOC provides figures up to 2001. They say the percentage who return to prison after twenty four months is fairly static at 33.8% and has not changed much since 2001's figures. In 2007-08 the FDOC released a total of 37,018 inmates and as shown above the following fiscal period they released 37,391. Over the 24 month period they released 74,409 prisoners. Of those released, 1,004 - or 1.4% - were current or former PRIDE workers.

The information provided says of the 1,004 former PRIDE inmates released, 14% or 140 were returned to prison within that two year period. keeping 864 inmates from returning to prison sounds like an impressive accomplishment, until you compare that to the number released - 74,409 overall - and realize their efforts impacted upon 1% of the inmates released over a 24 month period.

Now, for 2009 PRIDE "claims" they employed an average of 371 inmates in PIECP operations (I can document that as many as two times that number are actually being worked on PIECP projects and not getting pay or credit for their labor), the number of claimed PIECP inmates workers to the total prison population 100,894 is .004%.

How in the world can anyone claim that a prison industry program is beneficial to both job placement and reducing recidivism when less than 2% of the incarcerated men and women are affected in any manner by the program? The answer is it isn't and even using the above facts and figures, the results can be shown to have been further skewed.

For instance...in January of 2008 the former Secretary of the FDOC presented a plan to the Florida Governor and Legislature to abolish PRIDE and to turn the prison industries back over to the FDOC. In that presentation he provided figures showing that the actual number of inmates then working in PRIDE (PIECP included) was only 2% of the Department's total population of 98,192 or 1,964 workers. Yet the annual report by PRIDE linked to above, provides that they had 3,941 inmates that worked in their prison industries. Their figures were inflated by 2000 - more than double the number that actually participated!

No matter what the figures offered up by the FDOC and PRIDE, they're not reliable. You cannot use them to formulate any true and accurate analysis of the PIE program, number of workers or work stations PRIDE claims they have. Every time you try, everything gets squirrelly - and I think it is intentional to keep everyone in the dark as to the true purpose of the program and actual impact upon civilian jobs and manufacturing.

One fact is established: for 2009 PRIDE sales totaled $74,887,872.00 from the work of 2,261 0r $78,932,034.00 from 2,241 inmates or 3,961   inmates who worked a total of 3.9 million hours. The 3.9 million hour figure is static - it's everything else that won't stand still for a true count. I contend that's how it is meant to be. As these links in this para demonstrate, they will lie, swear to it and the NCIA will have their back and the DOJ will smile and tell them to carry on.

That's 3.9 million labor hours that were not done by civilian workers and at least $75 million that was lost to private sector manufacturers. That is the point I've been working on - regardless of the different figures of inmates working in the prison industry programs in that one state, or whether the actual sales were $75 or $78 Million...3,9 million hours were lost to civilians as was the amount of the sales, regardless of the total amount. The second point? They have so screwed up the figures nobody can positively pin them down on labor, sales, recidivism and how many inmates are actually benefiting from this "Slave labor" program called Training by the prison industry operators, corporations partnered with them and the Department of Justice.

How many other facts and figures are skewed by the DOJ, DOC's and prison industries? How many of the other 42 industries participating in this program are also hiding their numbers like a con-man in three card Monty? I'm betting a bunch!

Originally posted to Bob Sloan on Fri Jan 21, 2011 at 06:06 PM PST.

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