The money-spinning prison industrial complex isn’t a new concept. It’s been around since the chain-gang days. Arguably, they benefited the community by doing hard labor, but times and prisons have changed. The idea of cheap labor has matured into a profit-spinning, lucrative business for those invested in the prison machine.
Is it a new form of slavery? The world prison population ranks the United States in first position with 2,228,424 prisoners, equating to roughly 25% of the world’s prison population. It’s double the amount of China, who ranks second with 1,701,344, yet has a population five times greater than the US. 
Sentence discrepancy has played a role in the US figures. Less than 5 grams of rock cocaine carries a 10 year sentence while 500 grams of cocaine powder carries 5 years. Human rights organizations’ argue the discrepancy as being race and social based – cocaine powder is used mainly in middle to upper class echelons of society.
New York’s 1970’s Rockefeller Drug Laws also influenced sentencing. Governor Nelson Rockefeller launched a costly program aimed at rehabilitating narcotics addicts, doing little to reduce drug use. As a result, the Rockefeller Drug Law enacted a mandatory minimum sentencing of 15 years to life, for possession of 4 ounces of narcotics.
Prison labor is at the heart of the prison industrial complex. Without a booming population, the system would collapse. Thirty-seven states have legalized prison labor contracts for private corporations in prisons. Some of these companies are AT&T, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Target, and IBM. 
Private prisons also receive set amounts of money to achieve targets. In the States, CCA and Wackenhut control the majority of private prisons. Across Europe, the UK and Australia, G4S (a Wackenhut subsidiary)^^ control most private prisons. Each prisoner carries a dollar value, equating to funds received by the prison to continue their contract.  In the US, the private system houses approximately 8 percent of the prison population. 
Prison labor is the cheapest source of labor in western society. The 13th Amendment permits the use of slavery as, “a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”
From the days of crushing rocks to today’s construction of various items, the slave labor regime is truly alive. For some, it’s an integral key to survival in an uncertain economy, drawing away from ‘free-world’ employment to cheap prison employment. After all, hourly rates at a low of 17 cents for 6 hour days, no employee strikes, no vacation time, or insurance to pay; the investors may liken their find to a jackpot.
 International Centre for Prison Studies. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.prisonstudies.org/highest-to-lowest/occupancy-level?field_region_taxonomy_tid=All&=Apply
 Pelaez, V. (2014, March 31). The Prison Industry in the United States: Big Business or a New Form of Slavery? [Global Research]. Retrieved from http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-prison-industry-in-the-united-states-big-business-or-a-new-form-of-slavery/8289
 ^^ Wackenhut, G4S, Group 4 Falck, Group 4 Securitas, G4S Wackenhut are all related subsidiaries. Private sources.
 Private Sources.
 Flatow, N. (2014, September 17). The United States has the Largest Prison Population in the World — and it’s Growing. [ThinkProgress]. Retrieved from http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/09/17/3568232/the-united-states-had-even-more-prisoners-in-2013/