Using Convict Labor to Offset Budget Shortfalls

Purse made by convict labor in Arizona
Purse made by convict labor in Arizona

Two powerful economic problems bedeviling us now are state budget shortfalls and burgeoning prison populations. Therefore it should come as no surprise that states are looking to trim expenses by turning to convict labor. And that doesn't mean just making license plates any more.

As of 2009, there were 2.3 million people locked up in jails and prisons in the U.S., at an average cost per person in the neighborhood of $26,000. For years, prisoners have been used for the most menial of tasks, such as laundry and farm work, to help offset this cost.