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Private Sector Prison Industries: A Viable Alternative to Mexican Labor

NCJ Number
Date Published
33 pages
This study examined the feasibility of marketing prison- based labor, at or above the Federal minimum wage, to companies currently operating in Mexico under the Maquiladora program.
The similarities between Mexico's Maquiladora industries and private-sector prison industries (PSPI) in the United States are several; both typically use labor-intensive production processes, both use a low-skilled work force, and both occur in similar forms or models. Phase 1 of this study was designed to gain a better understanding of Maquiladoras to determine whether it was realistic to suggest that a domestic, prison-based work force could be more advantageous to certain types of employers. The critical activity of Phase 1 was the telephone interviews with managers of companies that employ Mexican-based work forces. Thirty-five companies were identified, of which 23 could not be reached, seven declined to be interviewed, and five were reached and willing to discuss the concept. Of these, three saw potential in PSPI under the right conditions. Phase 2 of the study was designed to test a marketing strategy for promoting domestic prison-based work forces as an alternative to Maquiladora work forces. This phase identified 45 companies located in States adjacent to South Carolina with Maquiladora operations. Of these, 20 were reached for comment. Fifteen were not interested, and five were sufficiently interested to consider the idea. Three of the five wanted more information, and one has made a commitment to use South Carolina prison labor. The most important finding of the study is that the marketing approach used is one that should receive serious consideration by persons who market the PSPI concept. A 14-item bibliography

Date Published: January 1, 1994