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REPLY 4-1 SaLe (100 words with 1 reference)

In order to understand how prison labor takes away from free market enterprise, the differences between free enterprise and capitalism must be understood. The law of supply and demand is what determines the price of production for both free enterprise and capitalism, but a free enterprise system is focused on the exchange of wealth or goods and services, while the capitalist system is focused on the creation of wealth and ownership of capital and factors of production (Oguche, 2022). Free enterprise is free of government and is largely regulated through private measures, and focuses on an open and free market to barter goods. On the other hand, capitalism has business owners who employ workers, and the workers do not claim any any profits generated by the labor, and production is dependent on supply and demand.

The overwhelming concern with prison labor begins with the fact that incarcerated workers provide billions of dollars work of goods/services, but are paid little to nothing, with no proper training and no opportunity for growth (UChicago News, 2022). To name a few concerns with the prison labor system: 76% of incarcerated individuals report facing punishment if declining work; they are excluded from minimum wage and overtime protection, unable to unionize, do not receive adequate training and equipment, and denied workplace safety guarantees despite dangerous conditions; 64% of incarcerated worked worry about safety while working; incarcerated workers $2 billion in goods and $9 billion worth of prison maintenance ser4vices annually; most states pay incarcerated worker pennies on the hour; etc. (UChicago News, 2022). It is argued that though the prison system is supposed to offer rehabilitation to inmates, prison labor does the opposite by degrading, dehumanizing, and crippling incarcerated workers. In order to combat the harsh system, there must be change to: ensure work is voluntary in prisons; allow prisoners the same labor protections as other workers (minimum wage, health and safety standards, unionization, protection from discrimination, etc.); institute comprehensive safety and training programs; and, invest in prison work programs to provide marketable skills and training to be useful after release (UChicago News, 2022).

Allowing the prison work force to continue as it currently stands is not only harming the economic market of the United States, it is also hindering the ability for reintegration into society. In order to have a successful prison work force, there needs to be more time invested into training incarcerated individuals to be able to take on the work force after release, but it is also important to remember the process should be voluntary (for those who are physically able), and encouragement should be offered rather than prisoners receiving a demeaning nature.

REPLY 4-1 ReCa (100 words with 1 reference)

Prison labor is a highly discussed and scrutinized topic. Prison labor is often performed in areas such as laundry, janitorial, mail delivery etc and paid a the lowest level. There are other jobs that can be lucrative such as welding that may over 15 dollars an hour but this is a very minor percentage of the working prison population (Shemkus, 2015). Having a purpose in your daily life is important. We all have them in our normal lives outside of prison, so prisoners need them as well. Many may see low paid wages for these jobs as a form of slavery or taking advantage of a vulnerable population. Working can help with inmate behavior, boredom and give them a sense of purpose. This effects the free market by skipping out on the high cost it would take to make outside of prison and how much it would cost in the end. By making it in prisons and paying the inmate workers very low wages along with none of the legalities of healthcare, training etc to worry about, the buyer is paying an exceptionally low price for goods. This cost the other non prison suppliers valuable business. Most prison jobs offer the inmate some form of experience but they are not gaining very much high end experience as those jobs are not readily available to all inmates. 


REPLY DaAt 4-2 (reply 125 words with 1 response)

Many discuss the injustices of making prisoners work for such low pay. Can anyone discuss the potential drawbacks of paying prisoners minimum wage to work?