Mass Incarceration Is Benefitting Big Industries

Hands on fence
William Anderson
October 15, 2020


Mass incarceration means jobs to politicians and corporations. The more people you imprison, the more prisons you need to build – and that means jobs for construction workers. 

Prison and jail construction has brought in as much as $3.3 billion annually in recent years.


Once you’ve locked up more people than other nations around the globe, you have to keep the lights on. Prison abolitionist Ruth Wilson Gilmore explains that prisons “are essentially small cities with the water, heating and electrical demands.” This amounts to $1.7 billion annually.


Prison food is known for being terrible. But prison food companies make as much as $2.1 billion annually – and there have even been cases of authorities taking funds meant for food and pocketing it!


People in prison have medical needs. They may have a wide range of ailments, just like anyone on the outside would. Prison healthcare is also substandard, but companies that provide it to people behind bars have made as much as $12.3 billion annually on this.


Telecommunications is booming – and calls, virtual visits, and more cost outrageous prices! It keeps families apart. But corporations make $1.3 billion annually from this. This and all of the aforementioned data from the Prison Policy Initiative exposes profits made from Black pain.

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