Would You Buy Prison–Made Clothes?

How would you feel if the clothes you bought were made in a prison, most likely by a Hispanic inmate?

Although it’s not a popular practice, it’s becoming more common worldwide including in countries like Peru, and the U.S. And since, the Hispanic population in this country is at 35 percent, according to the United States Sentencing Commission, it’s likely the clothes is being made by one of our own.

Some argue this practice is unethical because companies around the world are bringing in huge profits and paying inmates cents to a dollar an hour. The Federal Prison Industries (Unicor) is a federal enterprise with 78 manufacturing facilities around the country.

Inmates who work for Unicor make from 23 cents to $1.15 an hour making uniforms and bedding for the prison itself. Other companies, like U.S. Prison Blues, is a U.S. company that manufactures prison and fashion clothing in an Oregon prison. There commercial line includes denim, Ts and hats.

READ: This Prison is So Dangerous, Even the Guards Won’t Go In

The companies, however, argue this type of work allows the inmates to learn a skill they can use to find work once they’re released. Since this type of training takes money, the companies are essentially investing in rehabilitating the inmates.

“Don’t think that because people are in prison that they’re forgotten and that they’re useless to society,” says Jason Swettenham, head of public sector prison industries in England and Wales. “Because most of them have just done wrong and want to make amends and want a chance.”

Read more about how fashion companies around the world are setting up shop in prisons here.

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