Talk About Social Injustice – Taxpayer funded jobs go to prisioners

Posted on December 9, 2009. Filed under: General Info, Soapbox | Tags: , , , , , |

Wednesday, U.S. Reps. Pete Hoekstra and Dave Camp put out a press release:

The president recently held a “Jobs Summit” at the White House. Topping the agenda was the creation of “green jobs.” With the unemployment rate in Michigan hovering above 15 percent and the nation at 10 percent, a great deal of hope is being thrust upon the renewable energy industry and the promise of “green jobs.”
It appears, however, the administration is content with having those jobs performed by prisoners as opposed to law-abiding citizens.

They went on to discuss UNICOR (the trade name for Federal Prison Industries, Inc.) whose mission of Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (FPI) to employ and provide job skills training to the greatest practicable number of inmates confined within the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The program falls under the Department of Justice. Reps. Hoekstra and Camp went on to say:

… Unfortunately, most Americans remain unaware of the Federal Prison Industries’ (FPI) exploits. FPI employs cheap prison labor — compensating inmates at wages of between 23 cents and $1.15 an hour — to assemble products purchased by federal agencies under a mandatory source arrangement.

Mandatory source status means if a federal agency needs to purchase a product offered by FPI, the agency must buy it from FPI, even if the price is higher, the quality lower or the delivery longer than that of commercial products.

In looking at their list of literally hundreds of items, shown below, at least 50% are labeled as “Mandatory” meaning “Federal customers are required to give procurement priority to FPI, when UNICOR is able to provide the desired product, within the required time frame, and at a competitive price. When FPI is unable to meet the customer’s price, delivery and quality requirements, a waiver is granted.” Competitive price is not defined on the website. The press release continued:

FPI has used its competitive advantage for years to expand its business into such industries as furniture, vehicular components and textiles. …The furniture industry and automotive parts suppliers know this battle all too well. Now FPI has set its sights on the renewable energy sector, a.k.a. “green jobs.”

President Obama has committed to spending $150 billion from taxpayers over 10 years for renewable energy incentives and jobs, but FPI is undercutting the taxpayers’ investment and siphoning job opportunities.

We have all heard the President, most recently at the “Jobs Summit” say he was going to turn unemployment around using weatherization and other “green” jobs. Maybe he didn’t see the Van Jones videos. Van Jones, Obama’s fired “Green Jobs Czar” said numerous times, on video, the green jobs would be given to the inmates.

He calls it social justice. I call it injustice. Justice would be criminals being punished for breaking the law. Instead they are rewarded with luxuries law abiding citizens do not have. Things like a college education, free medical, vision and dental coverage, and now even our jobs. That’ll teach them!

They get to keep the money they earn, and according to the government website, they have used the money to pay off restitution, child support, etc.. Here’s a thought, maybe they should have to use the money for rent, food, education, etc…????? -to reimburse the taxpayers for expenses we incur to incarcerate them and provide them services. That’s actual justice. The website boasts they are even able to send money home to their families. How nice. EXCUSE ME??? The Reps go on to say:

In 2003 and 2006, the U.S. House passed on an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote (350 to 65 and 362 to 57 respectively), a bill we introduced to eliminate FPI’s mandatory source status.

The bill allowed private sector companies and their law-abiding employees to compete on a level playing field with FPI. However, the Senate failed to send it to the president for signature.

… In eight years under the Bush administration the Justice Department failed to connect the dots on the negative economic impact of the rapidly expanding FPI. President Obama appears willing to let FPI — which operates under the executive branch — to continue to grow. FPI’s FY2009 Annual Report shows that sales continued to surge to $889 million. More disconcerting, however, is its board’s aggressive vision for future “expansion into the renewable energy sector.”

If the president and lawmakers want to continue touting the virtues of “green jobs,” or any other jobs for that matter, they should focus on badly needed jobs for law-abiding citizens.

We will soon reintroduce legislation in Congress to curb FPI’s unfair advantage and support for private sector firms and their non-inmate workers. Americans deserve an opportunity to bid on federal contracts funded by their own tax dollars.

Here is the list of jobs and services FPI provides. (note even help center and phone bay services are provided):


The Clothing and Textiles Group (CTG) provides a wide range of products, the majority of which are procured from a distinct cadre of customers on a contractual basis. Individual orders can likewise be placed through the CTG’s on-line store. Items include military clothing such as army combat uniforms, physical fitness apparel, shirts and cold weather gear. In addition, specialty bags (for helmets, tools and the United States Postal Service), body armor, gloves, household items (mattresses, towels, linens, custom drapes, bedspreads), as well as screen printing, embroidery services and textile repair services are offered.

The Electronics Business Group (EBG) is heavily relied upon by the Nation’s military to provide cost-effective, precision manufacturing. Product lines include cable assemblies and wire harnesses, circuit boards, electrical components and connectors, lighting and power distribution, fiber optics, communications and plastics/molding technologies and, more recently, solar panel manufacturing.

The Fleet Solutions Group (FSG) provides a complete range of fleet modernization and remanufacturing programs including tactical vehicle and vehicular components manufacturing (RESET/RECAP), retrofitting and conversion services, as well as fleet asset services.

The Industrial Products Group (IPG) offers a diverse range of products which include agency seals, traffic /architectural signs, vehicle tags, name plates/tags, filtration services, and lockers, pallet racking and catwalks, prescription and safety eyewear, security fencing, as well as a wide variety of recognition and promotional products.

The Office Furniture Group (OFG) offers a full spectrum of products to furnish virtually any environment, from reception/lounge areas, dormitory settings and medical offices, to executive suites. Product lines include systems/modular workstations, wood case goods, file and storage offerings, office accessories, and seating appropriate for all venues. And all OFG factories have achieved ISO 9001:2000 certification.

The Recycling Business Group (RBG) offers electronics recycling which meets all federal, state and local requirements. If an item cannot be reused, it is broken down into recyclable component parts. The RBG is ISO 9001:2000 certified by the International Standards Organization. Currently, eight processing centers and six collection sites are located throughout the country, and during Fiscal Year 2008, the RBG processed more than 37 million pounds of obsolete and excess electronics from both the private and public sectors which saved precious landfill space.

The Services Business Group (SBG) offers a full range of services which include data and document conversion, digitizing, electronic imaging, printing and bindery, contact center/help desk support, forward/reverse logistics, as well as warehousing and distribution.

I am certain they will tell you, the nearly 22,000+ inmates currently employed by FPI are not taking jobs away from the citizens, but I ask you, doesn’t this list show jobs in which the unemployed would certainly be interested?

Just to put the dot one the i, here’s a look at the growing unemployment situation in this country, by moving graph.

Between losing  jobs to illegal immigrants, prisoners and a bad economy, is it any wonder unemployment is so high?

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