“The industry behind mass incarceration is bigger than many appreciate. So is the harm they cause and the power they wield. They exploit and abuse people with devastating consequences.”
A new report by New York-based advocacy group Worth Rises detailed some 4,100 corporations that profit from the country’s prisons and jails. It identified corporations that support prison labor directly or through their supply chains.
The group also recommended divesting from more than 180 publicly traded corporations and investment firms considered to cause the greatest harm to people behind bars and the communities that support them.
The report includes vendors that stock commissaries with Cup Noodles and Tide laundry detergent, along with contracted health care providers that have been sued for providing limited or inadequate coverage to those behind bars.
There are companies like Smith & Wesson that make protective gear for correctional officers and Attenti that supply electronic ankle bracelets. Other household names, such as Stanley Black & Decker, have entire units dedicated to manufacturing accessories for prison doors.
Incarcerated people also work, making everything from license plates to body armor vests and mattresses. In California, some even serve as firefighters. But in some places, they are employed by major corporations such as Minnesota-based 3M.
Billed as a cheap alternative to foreign outsourcing, inmates also previously provided goods to Starbucks, Victoria’s Secret and Whole Foods, sparking an uproar.