Seek Justice

A weekly deep dive into Criminal Justice with Erik Rasmussen and Dennis Schrantz

Ep. 6 - Free Labor


Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

There is also an embroidery shop which makes all the hats for the NCAA, the NFL, major league baseball teams and companies such as Gear and Sprint. In addition there are several other smaller shops that make goods of various kinds, all with inmate labor. It is quite fascinating and keeping these men busy I believe is the reason this area seems so tranquil. There are several private companies that work inside the walls and supply “civilian” crew bosses who teach the inmates how to operate the machinery and provide them with a trade if they don’t have one.

At any given time there are 500-600 men working in the industrial division on three 8-hour shifts — 24 hours a day if needed. They are paid minimum prevailing wage to start and 25 percent goes back to the penitentiary for room and board. Ten percent is put into mandatory savings, a small amount is paid into each inmates commissary account and the balance is paid into a victims’ restitution fund.

  • Minimum wage in the United States, in dollars per hour: $5.15
  • Average hourly rate paid at a prison camp in Nevada: $0.13
  • Maximum wage paid to prisoner workers in dollars per day in Georgia and Texas: $0
  • Most prisons that pay prisoners for work have a range of pay depending on the job. Average of the minimum wages for prisoners paid by the states, in dollars per day for non-industry work: $0.93
  • Average of the maximum wages paid to prisoners by the states, in dollars per day: $4.73
  • Lowest wage reported, in dollars per day, for prisoners working in private industry: $0.16

Our theme music is District Four, by Kevin MacLeod (
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