As Graeme Wood reported in Pacific Standard's March/April 2015 issue, prison labor produces many of our favorite products and is also often exploitative: Labor historian Alex Lichtenstein told Wood today’s largest state prison-work programs are essentially “enormous corporations” operating with slave-like labor. Over the past few months, thousands of inmates across the United States have gone on strike, walking off jobs like license-plate making and furniture construction. It’s difficult to verify the size of the strike, but activists say it’s one of the biggest in American history, with 20,000 inmates in at least 24 prisons spread throughout 23 states, according to the Los Angeles Times. The inmates participating in the strikes are primarily protesting low or non-existent wages.
Explore more stories from the March/April 2017 issue of Pacific Standard.