Slavery in Its New Form

Did you know that you knowingly support the “modern-day slavery?” Believe it or not, in some shape or form, every week, if not every day you support those who engage in slavery practices.


How many of you eat at McDonalds, shop at Wal-Mart or Victoria’s Secret? These companies and along with many others use prisoners to create, produce and even make those products that you love oh so much. There are more people performing MANDATORY, pretty much unpaid, hard labor in America than there were in 1830. If you’re not familiar with history slavery was just abolished in 1865. So I repeat there are more people performing prison labor today than there was in 1830, when slavery was alive and well. If you don’t think that’s crazy, then I don’t know what is.


While I do believe that people who commit crimes should to some extent face the consequences that fit such crime, I don’t necessarily agree with prison labor. Allowing inmates to work while in prison is not the problem, what they are given in return is the problem and yet we support it each and every day in some shape or form.


For example, Whole Foods sells $12 a pound tilapia which is advertised as being raised by family farms. However, it is actually raised by prisoners in Colorado, who were paid 74 CENTS A DAY!! McDonald’s, something that we can’t seem to get enough of (YUCK), has plastic ware, containers and uniforms made by prisoners. What’s worse is that the inmates who sew these uniforms make even less money than the people who wear them and last time I checked McDonald’s employees make minimum wage, (which is also outrageous, but I’ll save that argument for another day).


You know those cute, dainty panties that WE love at Victoria’s Secret? Those too, were made by female prisoners in South Carolina. As much as we pay for their bras and panties, to know that they people who make them aren’t even receiving a full dollar per hour is outrageous!


Here is just a short list of companies that actively participate in Prison Labor:

Bank of America​Bayer​​Cargill​​


Costco​​​John Deere​Eli Lilly and Company

Exxon Mobil​​GlaxoSmithKline

Johnson and Johnson​K-Mart​​Koch Industries​​​


Motorola ​​Nintendo​Pfizer

Procter & Gamble​Pepsi​​ConAgra Foods​

Shell ​​​Starbucks​UPS​​



Unfortunately, in Texas, prisoners do not have the option to not work. Their work is mandatory and unpaid which is the definition of slavery. Believe it or not, most of the prisoners in Texas work in agriculture by farming 10,000 beef cattle, 20,000 pigs and a 250,000 egg-laying hens. “The prisoners also produce 74 million pounds of livestock feed per year, 300,000 cases of canned vegetables, and enough cotton to clothe themselves (and presumably others).” Similar prison work is found in Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi and Ohio, along with many others.


“While not all prisoners are “forced” to work, most “opt” to because life would be even more miserable if they didn’t, as they have to purchase pretty much everything above the barest necessities (and sometimes those too) with their hard-earned pennies. Some of them have legal fines to pay off and families to support on the outside. Often they come out more indebted than when they went in.” –


While I can’t and won’t ask you to stop buying from these stores, I do ask that you be aware. If you can, avoid them, and if not, use your voice to express how you do not support their use of prisoners to make the products that they sell.


(For more information, please read Return to Now’s article “How Prison Labor is the New American Slavery and Most of Us Unknowingly Support it”)  



Peace, Love & Awareness




One thought on “Slavery in Its New Form

  1. Great article to enlighten those who were unaware of big companies utilizing prison labor, me included. I was aware of prison labor prior to this article, however I did not know the list of Fortune 500 companies who benefit from it. For that, thank you. However, I must disagree with your overall stance on the issue. You say that “Unfortunately, in Texas, prisoners do not have the option to not work.” That statement is incorrect in my eyes. Although once incarcerated some prisoners have no say in their labor participation, each and every one of them has the option to choose their path in life and whether to commit crimes or not that put them in prison. By definition a slave is someone who is involuntarily designated as legal property of another person and forced to obey them. In this case, however, a prisoner has made his or her own conscience choice to end up in that situation – it’s not involuntary if your actions led to the outcome.

    P.S. When you discuss minimum wage I will have a comment on that as well, as I’m assuming you have a negative stance on the issue. I will be looking out for that one.

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