Even Making Pennies An Hour, They Gave What They Had

coins on the top oof a dollar bill
Zain Murdock
July 19, 2021


Jason Bryant was incarcerated at Soledad State Prison in California. While there, he and his friends actually worked prison jobs for a living – well, if you consider making as little as EIGHT CENTS an hour a living! 

But he’s not alone.

Regular prison jobs typically entail tasks like mopping floors, clerking, and food service. And while those jobs would typically pay about $14 an hour in CA, incarcerated people get paid an average of 86 cents a DAY. That’s actually LOWER than what prison wages were 20 years ago! 

But there’s more.

Like folks working outside prisons, incarcerated people also face wage deductions – typically cutting their income in HALF. So, to buy something like a box of tampons, the Prison Policy Initiative cites, it could take TWO WEEKS of work. 

Which is why what Bryant and his friends pulled off was unbelievable.

The incarcerated group raised $32,000 to send a young Black student to school! Considering exploitative prison wages, this uplifting story becomes a moment to look at the bigger picture.

From serving meals to mixing our hand sanitizer, no one should work for a few cents an hour. And if there’s so much money going to prisons and policing, while incarcerated people still try to invest in Black communities, imagine how much more we could build our communities WITHOUT prison.

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