Legislation working its way through Congress would allow federal inmates to work for private firms while they carry out their sentences. Advocates say prison jobs allow inmates a release and teach them valuable skills necessary to make it on the outside. Critics argue prison labor exploits inmates and fosters unfair competition. Of the 80,000 to 90,000 prisoners engaged in prison labor, just 3,500 work for private firms.
See Silja J.A. Talvi, The Christian Science Monitor, May 13, 2001