Nations largest prison operator found guilty of #WageTheft

imagesCorrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest operator of private prisons, made news recently when they were found to be in violation of wage and benefit laws.  The company grossly underpaid their employees to the tune of nearly $8million dollars.

Related article:  Prison company pays $8 million in back wages

The settlement covers the period from October 2010 through November 2013, when the company had a contract to supervise federal inmates at the prison. It is now a state prison, but Corrections Corp. still provides the staff.

Federal contractors are legally required to pay their employees the prevailing local wages and benefits. For prison guards, the prevailing wage was $31.29 an hour, but Corrections Corp. paid only $24.76, said Eduardo Huerta, assistant director of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division in Los Angeles.

Related article:  Corrections Corp. Wins as Brown Buys California Prison Fix

This wouldn’t be so problematic if Corrections Corp. of America hadn’t recently approached Governor’s, of all 50 states, to purchase their prison systems, as long as they were guaranteed 90% occupancy.  Instead of selling our prisons in California, Governor Jerry Brown decided to lease space, in other prisons, to move prisoners due to overcrowding.


USA Today made the argument that contracting with private prisons locks in occupancy rates.  CCA initially wanted 90% guaranteed occupancy over 20 years but settled on a rental agreement.

CCA entered into a 3-year contract with the State of California, in the amount of nearly $29 million dollars in 2013.

Prop 47 recently passed in California that would reclassify six low-level property and drug offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. These offenses include shoplifting, theft, and check fraud under $950, as well as personal use of most illegal drugs.  Lawyers acting on behalf of our Attorney General argued:

Most of those prisoners now work as groundskeepers, janitors and in prison kitchens, with wages that range from 8 cents to 37 cents per hour. Lawyers for Attorney General Kamala Harris had argued in court that if forced to release these inmates early, prisons would lose an important labor pool.


Prison labor is used from agriculture (tending to crops), provide customer service scheduling your flight/car rentals.  Prison labor is also used to make cheese which is sold in Whole Foods.  They produce equipment for the military.  You would be surprised how many companies are turning to prison labor to remain in the top 1% of the country.

Is the contract between CCA and the State of California why Attorney General Kamala Harris is against releasing under Prop 47?

Read the full list of companies who benefit from prison labor on the DailyKos.




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About Melissa

I am a lifelong Inglewood resident living in District 4. I serve on PTA and School Site Council as Vice-President, for the last 8 years with Inglewood Unified School District. I volunteer on the Wellness Committee for ICEF Public Schools. I am an alumni of California State University, Dominguez Hills with a degree in Political Science. You can find me on Twitter under @CreoleMommie

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