The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Maryland Prison Inmates Paid at Rock Bottom

Jan 6, 2020

According to a recent report to the Maryland legislature, there are roughly 18,000 people incarcerated in the 17 prisons and pre-release centers in the so-called Maryland Division of Correction. This does not include thousands more in local and federal prisons. About 12,000 of the state prison inmates work sweeping and mopping floors, washing clothes, cutting hair, preparing meals, and doing supervised maintenance work in the prisons.

This prison labor is very cheap. State inmates have been paid from 11 cents to 34 cents per hour for their essential prison labor.

Another state agency called Maryland Correctional Enterprises employs about 1,500 more prisoners making license plates, flags, college dorm furniture, printing state letterheads and performing services such as data entry for other state agencies. These inmates are paid from 17 cents to $1.16 per hour.

The state prison system defends its ridiculously low pay rates by claiming prisoners learn discipline and skills that will help them after they are released. But even if this is sometimes true, the state still uses these prisoners as virtual slave-labor while they are incarcerated.

The prisons are clearly not “correctional”. They simply punish, victimize and exploit working class and poor people, while helping to enrich the really big criminals at the top of this corrupt capitalist system.