US Prison Labor Creates $11 Billion in Value

The ACLU reports on America’s corporate neo-slavery

Mitchell Peterson
7 min readJun 21, 2022
Photo by Hédi Benyounes on Unsplash

The American carceral state is an abomination. ‘The Land of the Free’ locks up more of its own population than any country on earth and has more than twenty percent of the global prisoners despite having only five percent of the population. The explosion of prisoners has far outpaced population growth and doesn’t even reflect increases in crime.

And while a Senator, Joe Biden was instrumental in creating the mass incarceration problem we face today.

The over two million people in American jails or prisons cost the taxpayers $80,000,000,000 a year. And they’re not just sitting in six-by-eight cells trying to stay sane and alive; they’re working.

They’re working for corporate America, the states they’re serving in, and the military-industrial complex for pennies an hour and sometimes nothing at all.

People often say that slavery never ended, it just changed form. It was made illegal, but crucially, “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,” opening the door for chain gangs and the corporate exploitation we see today.

The American Civil Liberties Union recently released a report that details how these prison laborers…



Mitchell Peterson

Freelance writer who spent nine years outside the US, currently in rural America writing the Substack bestseller 18 Uncles.