Is it time to review prison costs to taxpayers of $30 to $60,000 a year to incarcerate 3 million criminals in the USA? An approximately total of 50 Billion dollars a year, plus future costs to fund prison guard pensions.

In a previous post, King Solomon, Punishment for Fools, I reviewed ancient reasons for punishment and commented that I believe it is time to review the cost to taxpayers to imprison criminals and the question of legalized penal labor.

The 13th Amendment states that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Which means there is no Constitution reason why convicted criminals should not work to pay for the cost of their confinement.

Past Reasons Why No Longer Being Done

USA history records abuses in making prisoners work to pay for their keep. Another reason was objections from private business worker unions could not compete with prison labor workers. If interested, read the various Sources I selected.

Why Do It Now?

The main reason is because so many manufactured products have been outsourced and are now made outside the USA. Why not have a portion of these products made again in the USA to allow prisoners to earn money for both themselves, and help prisoners pay the costs for their incarceration now being paid for by taxpayers? And who knows for sure if China, or other countries is not using prison labor to manufacture export products?

Five Products

The following products are imported in huge quantities and could be considered to be made with prison labor.


Jeans, clothing, caps etc.


Solar Panels

Sneakers (Shoes)


If private companies would receive tax benefits to have portion of these products made in prisons at reduced USA wages, and prisoners are allowed to save up a portion of the wages to use at the time of their release, not only would they have some resources, they would learn skills to help them find employment at time of release.

In addition, if prisoners made clothing, USA cloth mills would again start up in the USA to supply and manufacture cloth mill products. At present, because so much clothing products are imported, the cloth mills are also imanufactured in the countries that produce the exported clothing products.

In My Opinion

It is bad enough that victims of crimes may be physically or financially harmed by criminals, why should taxpayers also be penalized by paying to jail criminals?

I also believe that sharp talented marketing people could make a success of promoting items made by prisoners to be fashionable. The market message  being that by buying prison made products, their purchases are  helping the prisoners, taxpayers, and our nations interests by helping to rehabilitate criminals to prevent recidivism rates after their release.

You Decide

Is it time to review prison labor again now that prison population has increased over 700 percent in recent years, and so many USA products are imported? Do you believe it is fair that a portion of your earnings from working is being used to jail criminals and allow them to sit around, relax, exercise, eat, and watch TV, until they are released.

King Solomon

In my vain life I have seen everything; there are righteous people who perish in their righteousness, and there are wicked people who prolong their life in their evildoing (Ecclesiastes 7:15, NRSV).

Regards and goodwill blogging.


King Solomon, Punishment for Fools, HERE

Economics of Prison System, HERE

 Cost if Made in US,HERE    

Incarceration Costs to Taxpayers, HERE