Texas Inmate Exposes ‘Modern-day Slavery’ at Prisons in the United States


An inmate, who has been incarcerated in the United States city of Amarillo in Texas, has published a damning article in the independent news analysis outlet, Truth Out.Org, detailing how inmates in prisons across the state have been made to work for long hours without any pay.

Jason Renard Walker titled his article Unpaid Labor in Texas Prisons Is Modern-Day Slavery.” Walker revealed how Texas prisoners work as electricians, maintenance workers, cooks, janitors, painters and dog trainers. Again, they take care of more than 10,000 head of cattle, raising and processing beef, pork and chicken for sale.

Modern day slavery in United States

Walker revealed further that inmates also grow 24 different crops, and manufacture soap and clothing. He disclosed some prisoners work up to 12 hours a day without any pay. Prisons officials pocket all the monies these poor prisoners generate.

According to Walker, African-Americans are disproportionately affected by this forced labor at the prisons. It is said the Texas prison population is roughly evenly split, racially. About one-third of its inmates are African-Americans. One-third is whites, and one-third Latino. However, according to 2015 census in Texas, African-Americans make up only 13% of the state’s population.

Modern day slavery in United States

Walker wrote: “This is flat-out, modern-day slave labor and it will continue as long as society accepts the notion that prisoners deserve less.”

What is more concerning with the revelations made by Walker, is that prisoners who refuse to comply with this hard labor are made to stay longer in the prisons.

According to statistics, Texas has the biggest prison population in the United States. The state is also said to have more facilities than any other state. It has more than 143,000 people incarcerated in 124 prison units across the state.

With the force prison labor, it has made the Texas prison system one of the most self-sufficient and profitable prison systems in the United States.

When Walker blew the whistle, Salon followed it up to ascertain the veracity of the claims. The outlet found that prison labor indeed existed in the state. The labor is said to be supervised by the Texas Correctional Industries, a department established in 1963, that is within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ).

Modern day slavery in United States

A 2014 annual report authored by the TDCJ, seen by Salon, revealed that Texas Correctional Industries made a whopping $88.9 million in sales from items and services produced by inmates across the state.

In the reports, it was stated that the Texas Correctional Industries operates up to 37 manufacturing facilities, producing a variety of products, including mattresses, shoes, garments, brooms, license plates, printed materials, janitorial supplies, soaps, detergents, furniture, textile and steel products.

In addition, the Texas Correctional Industries also provides numerous services, such as furniture refinishing, tire retreading and auditorium and school bus refurbishing. Prisoners manufacture these goods and provide these services. The services are rendered for state and local government agencies, political subdivisions, public education systems and public and private institutions of higher education.

Modern day slavery in United States

Responding to why the state has implemented the labor at its prisons, officials at the TDCJ said the reasons behind the labor policy are to reduce department cost by providing products and services to [the TDCJ] while selling products and services to other eligible entities on a for-profit basis.  The TDCJ Officials also claim the labor will give inmates marketable job skills, and help to reduce recidivism.

Robert C. Hurst, the public information officer at the TDCJ, admitted that inmates worked for no pay in prisons across the state. He told Salon in an interview: “While inmates are not paid, they can acquire marketable job skills which could lead to meaningful employment upon their release. Offenders can also receive good conduct time for participating in work and self-improvement programs while incarcerated. For many, but not all offenders, ‘good time’ credits may be added to calendar time served in calculating their eligibility for parole or mandatory supervision.”

Modern day slavery in United States

Since Walker published his article, activists have gathered support, pressing for an end to the exploiting and dehumanizing of prisoners by the TDCJ. Activists have designed T-shirts aimed at raising awareness of the practice. You can click here to purchase some of the T-shirts to help the program. Part of the money spent on the T-shirt will be used to support activities, ensuring inmates who face this forced labor will have basic freedoms while serving their sentences.

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  1. I get up every morning and had of to work. Yes I get a paycheck every two weeks but with that pay check I have to buy groceries, pay the mortgage so that I’ll have a roof over my head and even pay my water and electric bills. If I don’t work to earn the money then I wouldn’t have these luxuries. I’m glad that prisoners are not allowed to just exist in the prison letting the tax payer buy food, utilities, and a place to stay. They should be expected to work. Oh… They don’t like the kind of work they have to do?Well, neither do I!
    Get your lazy but up and grow your own food!!!

  2. Funny how every “race” is equally distributed here while the guardian says “Black Americans incarcerated five times more than white people – report”

    “According to Walker, African-Americans are disproportionately affected by this forced labor at the prisons.”

    Must be racial persecution… or probably just another BLM in prison.


  3. Break the law in another country… such as Indonesia, China, Iran or Mexico and then decide how the US prison system rates. These guys have it made, which is one reason why Russians prefer to break laws on US soil rather than in Russia.

  4. I am so fed up of prisoners thinking they deserve equal rights to the average citizen. If you do the crime you pay with time and tax payers’ money. The issue here is not if they should be working – of course they should! The issue is who is in the prison in the first place? If someone is being imprisoned for smoking marajuana or for ‘resisting arrest’ when no crime has been committed, or even for petty theft out of desperation because they’re starving and can’t find a job but need to feed their family, then they shouldn’t be in prison. If they’re there because they killed, raped or committed grand larsony, damn right they can work. Why the hell should I pay for someone’s incarceration for them to just sit around and watch TV with a roof over their head, 3 meals a day etc. Equal rights for prisoners? ? Hell no. But a complete overhaul of the system is warranted. However even those people who I don’t think should go to prison could still do community work for free to pay back their debt to society.


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