exploitation

Say “Cheese!” — Whole Foods cheese made by prison labor

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Whole Foods shoppers who imagine that their expensive artisanal cheese is made on a quaint rural farm by happy workers may be surprised to discover that the cheese is really made by prison inmates. According to Fortune, Colorado cheese maker Haystack Mountain gets their milk from a goat farm run by Colorado Corrections Industries (CCI), where 1,000 goats are milked by six inmates twice a day. This is becoming a commonplace practice, as “nationwide 63,032 inmates produce more than $2 billion worth of products a year,” according to Forbes.

And it’s not just license plates that are being made in prison. Today, inmates “produce apple juice, raise tilapia, milk cows and goats, grow flowers, and manage vineyards.” CCI pays only 60 cents per hour for the inmates’ labor, although some manage to earn a whopping $3-400 a month.

Wow! [UPDATE: The mass appeal article (from which I originally quoted) misquoted Fortune. The original article says the inmates make only 60 cents PER DAY, not per hour!

Americans (on the outside) can’t possibly compete with that. In the near future, prison will be the only way Americans can keep a roof over their heads and have some job “security.”]

I won’t be buying anything from “Whole Foods” again. Not the wholesome establishment it claims to be.

122 replies »

      • many of them are also in there because they were represented by attorneys who “represent” hundreds of others like them at a time for non-violent (malum prohibitum) crimes. The whole system is stacked against poor Americans.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Great points and observations. Have you ever heard of FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT ?? We are a Civil and Human Rights group organized against mass incarceration FOR prison slavery. We organize work strikes by Men in prison, and we are about to launch a S-To-P Campaign against the “school-to-prison” pipeline by protesting at McDonald’s storefronts around the country for their use of prison slave labor.
        Being that you are an attorney, we would love to hear from you on some other plans that we have.

        Freealabamamovement@gmail

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have no problem with prison labor but I have a problem with people being put in prison for breaking stupid drug laws. Also I would hope that the profits made from that labor is being used to offset the cost of their incarceration.

        Liked by 1 person

      • They aren’t being exploited, they are learning job and life skills. For many of them, it is the first positive work experience they have had. I work with inmates and I know for a FACT that they would rather come work for pennies a day than to stay in that camp anymore than they absolutely have to. Our guys ask to work every weekend.

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      • I dont disagree. I’ve said several times that I object to unfair private profit from this practice, its impact on the labor market at large and the perverse incentive it gives prisons to keep their prisons full.

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      • How much do you think it costs each day to house an inmate? My local county jail, not federal, says it costs U.S. taxpayers between $66 and $90+ per DAY. I wonder
        if you still think the privilege of working while serving a sentence is exploitive. You are paying taxes to keep them there. Shouldn’t they earn their keep if at all possible?

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      • I thought I made myself pretty clear in the comments…perhaps you didn’t read any. I have no problem with inmates working – even if they work without pay (assuming arguendo they are violent or dishonest criminals and not simply afoul of some political or economic legislation). My beef is with the unjust enrichment inuring to the benefit of private corporations and to the detriment of free workers in the market economy who can’t possibly compete with inmates who make only 60 cents per day.

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      • Saying they learn “life skills” isn’t argument. Booker T Washington on slavery: many slaves left slavery better off with than their white counterparts because they learned valuable skills necessary to thrive in this country.

        Doesn’t make the exploitation of their labor okay.

        Liked by 1 person

      • They are not being exploited. They are learning a trade. We are not talking about developing countries here. I did prison ministry. These people WANT to work and WANT to learn. Learning a trade in prison saves you a LOT of time when you get out, finish your time and need a job. It is an excellent opportunity.

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      • Why is it exploiting people who have no way of earning any money any other way legally in the prison system? Would it be better for them to sell drugs in prison. Many times it is likely how they became incarcerated anyway. Would it be better for them to just sit in a cell all day? What I want to know is if the prisons are being compensated also to help offset the expense of housing prisoners.

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    • And that is why it’s crucial to create more more more more more laws so there are more more more more more “criminals” to provide free/cheap labor. The vast majority of “prisoners” have done nothing wrong – there are no victims and no destroyed property. Just unjust laws.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Vast majority? you must have been talking to the inmates as most of the inmates will tell you they are innocent and/or have been framed. unjust laws? you may not like certain laws, does not mean they are unjust. common saying, can’t do the time, don’t do the time.

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      • I think you mean, can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. Do you know anything about the philosophy underlying “criminal justice?” Just curious.

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      • All you whites?? Damn, you know comments like those only help to proliferate racism? Smh… Not to mention, the countless “blacks, browns, yellows, and greens” that have no idea about WF’s code of ethics… Get off the internet!!

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    • They are being made to work against their will. And a large percentage of people in prison do not deserve to be there.

      Not deserving to be in prison being forced to work against your will = slave labor

      Liked by 1 person

      • No they are forced to work against their will….the ones that work do it because it gets them out of their cell…gives them a small money stipend to purchase things from their commissary. ..takes the pressure off the loved ones on the outside to send money every month so they can get something more than the basic 3 hots and a cot. So, when you 23 and a half hours a day,7 days a week, 365 day a year in a cell about the size of a normal bathroom….that’s when you say they are forces against their will to work.

        Liked by 2 people

    • While people talk about this as work being corrective, keep in mind this is not a prison operated by the state, but a private prison housing inmates for profit. Every employee’s first concern is profit, not rehabilitation. Prisoners do not have a free choice to work or not, nor do they get to chose their jobs. They are slaves. Not only that, they are slaves essentially owned for the length of their sentence by that prison.

      Now, ignore for a minute why they got there, and focus on why prison labor like this is bad for us. Do you really think the goat farm down the street can compete with the prison labor? The cheese maker is buying the milk from this prison owned by a big corporation instead of a family farm because slave labor makes it cheaper. Why should out states favor big businesses at the expense of local entrepreneurs? Prison labor used to be things like having a furniture manufacturing program, and make office furniture for the state to save the tax payers some money. Not actually competing in the open market with local businesses.

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    • No corporation should own a prison, or benefit from a prisoners for profit system! Profit from such a system should go towards rehabilitating the prisoners who are imprisoned, or towards government programs to help mentally retarded, mentally ill, elderly and children, otherwise it is a form of slavery and puts every American at risk of being incarcerated to make the system more successful and profitable.

      Liked by 1 person

    • No one in prison should be paid. One: The people in prison should deserve to be there; that’s a huge issue, but a separate issue. Two: People in prison should not be paid for labor. It should be optional or perhaps a perk for good behavior if it’s desirable and gets them more time outdoors, but being in prison is not a job. It’s a punishment.

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    • I would think there is a licensing agreement or some type of contract between WF and the prison or prisons. I’m all for the prisoners not sitting on their behinds, but learning a trade like making cheese. They get a certain small amount of payment and the rest of payment helps make that prison more self sustaining, so we the taxpayers won’t have to pay for each criminal’s time of stay.
      There should be a governing group. I guess that’s where alternating lawyers’ groups with law students would go audit moneys. Also, checking cases to see if there has been any wrongful arrests to overpopulate the prisons for profit making. All this investigating is done for free. There’s the added factor of the learning experience, for law students to have actually lawyers mentoring them as they do this procedure. Now that would make a better feeling for lawyers, don’t you think? They volunteer like our soldiers do. They help make our country to be stronger financially and honest.
      No, I’m not a dreamer, I believe in miracles……. because if people start a process in that direction, anything is possible.

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      • I jumped ahead in my thoughts without typing it down. I was thinking that this could be expanded to other prisons. If they can become at least partially self-sustaining, that’s more tax money that we could use toward schools, education or our roads.

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    • Except the “skills” they learn are USELESS outside of prison since no one will hire a convicted felon to work on their fancy, artisanal cheese farm. So really, they’re just being exploited for cheap labor and left with nothing of value.

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      • Used up and casually tossed aside like a spent condom. Except that even real criminals are still human beings at their core (unless they’re a Dahmer). That’s just not right, I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done, no-one deserves to be exploited!

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    • And tax dollars are being used to give this corporation an unfair advantage over hard working people who are struggling to make a living milking cows and goats, making artisan cheese, and managing vineyards. There are a LOT of people, in addition to prisoners paid virtually no wage, who are being exploited here to line the pockets of a private prison company. And, some of those people I call friends!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think our prisons should be taken over by private industry. Do you know the families of prisoners are on welfare? Only through private industry may prisons run efficiently and become self-supporting – You are paying anyway – and with job training the opportunity to reduce recidivism is much higher. My concern would be the exploitation of the poor for labor & profit –

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    • Its billed as a training situation, its really a confinment situation , taking advantage of a situation , they are selling you a lie’ basically.

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  1. I agree with Gary. Nothing wrong with prisoners learning a skill and working hard. What else should they be doing?
    They committed crimes so they need to pay the price.

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      • Actually, but unsurprisingly, you keep missing the point. These prisoners may only “earn” $0.60 per hour for their work, but they are given free food, free housing, free utilities including cable TV, free library access, free medical care and a free gym membership.

        Assuming that the typical prisoner is working a full 40 hour work week, they are actually earning around $18 per hour, or $36,000 per year depending on where the prison is located. Those are the actual facts of this situation, not your emotional hyperbole.

        However, I assume that you would rather pay these prisoners a fair and living wage and then charge them for their housing, food, medical care and utilities. That would be far more “progressive”

        Liked by 1 person

      • sorry, it took me a while to get to your comment. Private corporations who employ inmates don’t pay for food, utilities, cable, healthcare, etc. We do. They just pay the 60 cents, and if the video in the last post I shared is accurate, they get 40% of those wages back from the government as ‘incentive’ for hiring inmates. So, no, I’m not missing the point. You just don’t ‘get it.’

        Liked by 2 people

      • Exploited? 45k to house them a year they are helping pay for their cost. They used to make them work for free in rock queries to pay their cost.

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      • Rasha, I’ve read ALL your replies with great interest. I understand YOUR point, but YOU seem to be missing THEIR point, which has to do with vocation training. I don’t think you should dismiss this valid point. As for the exploitation, that is what jails do, from triple priced commissaries to gross underpayment, regardless which job, whether the prisoners are stamping out license plates or rendering cheese, so perhaps your outrage is misdirected?

        Liked by 2 people

    • When you lose your job to prison labor you may change your tiny little mind. The NAZI’s were executed for using prison labor.
      You must love tyranny and hate freedom!

      Liked by 2 people

      • You nailed it Frank. Thank you. Yet another way the corporate oligarchy that runs America has found to undercut unions and labor. Truly amazing that so many commenting above don’t get this. Also, as more and more American prisons shift from county/state management to private corporations, the fascists who run these companies are now making money from both ends; from the fruits of exploited prison labor – on the one hand – to the massive support of tax dollars from the American serfs – on the other hand – who have to pay because they are not in a position to offshore like a Halliburton (thank you Dick Cheney) and pay no US taxes.

        Liked by 3 people

      • The Nazis were executed for war crimes (like genocide), and to accuse another of being un-American simply because they see different points is outrageous, as was your insult of “little mind”. While I do not agree that underpayment is a justifiable “offset” to the cost of housing inmates, I also do not agree with your finger pointing and name calling. Your rhetoric is over the top.

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    • You are missing the point. We have in place a system whereby politicians pass laws that criminalize people’s lives…these people are then arrested and enslaved in for-profit “prisons” (work houses) OWNED BY THE POLITICIANS making money from the slave labor based on the laws they passed. The crimes you are referring to are usually petty property crimes designed to ensnare poor people into lives of slavery. If you really favor this then you are one sick mofo.

      Liked by 4 people

    • You think BEING IN PRISON isn’t price enough to pay? Clearly you’ve never been to one, then. Also, not all of them committed crimes. Plenty of people are in our prisons for doing nothing wrong.

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  2. I’m on the fence about this. I do believe that prison inmates should do something. Especially something that will teach them a skill and hopefully rehabilitate them when/if they are released. However, that said, I hope this practice will not be taking away jobs from honest hardworking people. As for the exploitation issue….hey, they committed crimes and I believe in the old school way. If you’re a convicted criminal, you effectively lose your rights to live like those of us who aren’t convicted criminal. We have become such a wuss society! If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime!!

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    • well, mr or miss “PMW,” most inmates in today’s prisons have committed victimless “crimes” (drug possession) and other petty offenses. No one is suggesting that violent criminals should be coddled, but exploiting them at 60 cents per hour is not only morally wrong, it damn well will take jobs away from the rest of us. Besides, why should private companies reap windfall profits from these inmates “crimes?” If anything, have them work for those rates for the public good. but again, we run up against the bottomless pit of competitive wage slavery. As long as we allow ourselves to compete with each other to see who can make the biggest profits for private employers, we will forever remain trapped in the the race to the bottom paradigm.

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      • I agree that prison labor shouldn’t benefit for profit companies. Making license plates was a traditional prison job for a reason: it’s a product used by the state, not a profit making product sold be Whole Foods or Walmart. Not liking the laws and thinking people in prison don’t deserve to be there is a separate issue.

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  3. why not pay the prisoners a living wage? let them have a nest egg when they leave prison…that way “slave” labor is out of the question and no one “on the outside” loses their job because of the price disparity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • but if you pay them minimum wage, there is no reason for employers to hire them, without some “incentive.” But why should tax payers pay incentive to a greedy employer when the government can just pay these inmates a living wage right from the get go. The whole privatized system of business is fatally flawed. I don’t mind giving incentives to non-profit organizations (not to pay interest on their bloody tax free bonds, but to reinvest in the organization). I do object, however, to feeding someone’s greed.

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    • umm the rest of the pay goes to cover the $45,000 a year it cost to keep them there. This is a good thing not a bad thing for these people. They will have work and not go back to whatever when they get out. Worse just not get work because people won’t hire an ex-con No this is good no matter how you slice it.

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      • Didn’t you ever take a job that you didn’t like or even think was fair, just because you had no other options? No one puts a gun to your head, but you can hardly call it ‘freedom.’

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      • You’re not too bright, are you? You can’t see the same game as nazism in world war 2 is being played out here? The sooner power is wrested from the hands of the ruling class, the sooner we can get about healing the atrocities on/to this planet and living in relative peace and prosperity. When any being is being mistreated, it brings us all down a notch. If you can’t grasp that,it’s time to wake up! These prisoners aren’t working for the right reasons,and they aren’t being incarcerated for the right reasons. How many more ways do you want taxpayer’s money to further enrich the rich? And hasten the demise of the planet? Because the rich don’t give a s_ _ t about you or me or this planet, only their profits.

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    • ” Haystack Mountain pays a competitive market rate for goat milk.” What the hell does that mean? Why don’t they just come out and tell us what that competitive rate is? Notably, they did not deny the wage paid to inmates. Finally, before I believe that 100% of proceeds goes back into the program, I want to see the books – including the so-called “capital expenses.”

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  4. They are not “slave laborers”. (1) all of the costs of their housing, food, clothing and medical care are already paid (seriously, what percentage of Americans have 60 cents and hour left over after paying for everything?) and (2) They volunteer, and getting to do this work is actually a privilege, and it gives them $300-$400 per month for canteen.

    On the other hand, those who are receiving the value for the labor should pay market value, to help defray the costs of the inmate incarceration.

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    • they are slave labor. but I agree that they aren’t much worse off than “free” working class americans. also agree that the companies should pay market value. that’s the whole point of the post.

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      • Rasha, every single point you have made is brilliant. But the people you are arguing with would need years of non-indoctrination in American triumphalism before they could understand you. I did prison ministry for years through the Catholic church at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark. The private corporation that has taken over its management has figured out countless ways to make profit at the expense of all human decency. How about serving inedible slop for food, but making good food available for purchase by inmates at the prison store for exorbitant prices? How about keeping thousands of inmates on lockdown (unable to leave their cells) for 46 consecutive days because of one fist fight in an isolated part of the facility, only to find out that this allowed the prison to go on half-staff with its guards, causing one of the executives to brag about how much money this saved? How about no law library or any kind of library or job training despite being the 17th largest jail in the nation (population wise), because county “jails” are not required to provide these things as opposed to “prisons”; yet routinely men and women were stuck here for years because of overcrowding at the state prisons? And of course there is the larger picture; in the age of mass incarceration, your labor is not needed on the farm… and it is not needed in the factories (our capitalists have taken those overseas)… but we can get you into the system for petty stuff and make a cash crop out of you. Unless you are a warmongering arms maker or legislator running an illegal war in Iraq, or a Wall Street bankster “too big to fail” despite the extent of your crimes. Then you can avoid prison entirely. I’m thankful that my religion teaches me to see the evil hiding behind power and commands compassion to the oppressed (it’s the gospels, those “radical” documents about Jesus of Nazareth).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Anthony. Sometimes, it takes a little hands on experience like you have to be able to see the ‘big picture.’ Honestly, I find it hard to blame many of the people who can’t see through the lies and propaganda. It’s hard. The corporate industrialists and their media arms have brainwashing down to a science.

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  5. “they did the crime, then do the time”, please really?? 60-80% of inmates today are in prison for nonviolent victimless crimes. Meaning it shouldn’t be a crime. The whole law enforcement, incarceration system is a scam and big business while the poor and minorities suffer.

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  6. One of the stupidest, most misleading articles I’ve read on the internet and that’s saying A LOT! One Whole Foods store in Colorado purchases cheese from a Colorado farm that purchases milk from a goat farm that is run by Colorado Corrections and the headline says, “Whole Foods cheese made with prison labor?” But whoever runs this disingenuous site knows full well the vast majority of people who see this will only read the headline and skip actually reading the article. Shareeverything.com doing its part to dumb down the internet! Way to go!

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  7. Although it’s good I think for inmates to be productive, manufacturing products that private industry
    (who pay Federal, State, and local taxes taxes) can NOT be competitive in this type of system.
    Many prisons are now being operated by private companies, they make money from inmate labor,
    so they have a vested interest in keeping prisons full of cheap exploitable labor which creates a monopoly
    for the products they create.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. People are much better off sourcing their organic foods from farmers markets and community supported agriculture scheme – that way you know for sure where your food comes from and if it’s really organic.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think it is great. First , you are giving them a skill. In addition it costs taxpayers millions of dollars to run prisons. If the state can recoup some costs and we don’t have to have more taxes taken out of our pay checks just so the prisoners can eat for free, have medical care for free, get college degrees for free and free legal counsel, I am all for it.

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  10. The system is rigged we know that but after reading the paragraph I am left with more questions than answers: Where is the source of this serious accusation? Is Whole Foods the only one supermarket or it is a wide spread practice? Does the management of Whole Foods knows about it or it comes from a Third party contractor? Still, the news is quite outrageous!!

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    • The article makes it clear – Whole Foods is not alone. But, it’s a high profile name, and the fact that they’re supposed to be environmentally (and community) conscious, makes it all the more ironic.

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  11. They are definitely exploiting those prisons those company’s are making billions a year and only spending change for labor… and that free rent and food comes at a higher price that you would think… Have you heard of restitution? Where the inmate pays back all that money before being discharged off parole? How can they afford to pay thousands of dollars when it’s hard for a felony to become gainfully employeed. Not to mention these prisons are a business each of these facilities get money per inmate so the more inmates they have the more money they receive smh All this money they receive but you can’t even earn a GED anymore in there smh Read between the lines ppl and as High as that food cost in the whole food store the ppl who produce it should be union ppl… U wonder how u in the world and can’t get a descent job cuz they are using prisoners for cheap labor so they don’t have to pay You!

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  12. CCI has a very long history of utilizing their inmates for slave labor which is why they have contracted with the Federal Government and the Feds have promised to keep the CCI prison population at a minimum of 95% capacity which is why they are making laws that benefit the Corporations.

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  13. The amount of money they make goes to their commissary accounts for them to buy things with. The “other” money they make goes towards their fine if one is imposed, or toward a victims fund. I frankly like the fact that they are learning how to learn productive things with their time. Unless your like some of these remarks thinking that all prisoners are innocent people put in the prison by big business…rme

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    • at 60 cents a day, they’ll better be doing a lot of time if they ever hope to ‘pay off’ the fines! Oh wait, how convenient! The system is set up to maximize the time they spend behind bars! 🙂

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  14. all I see are complains and negative comments.. WHAT ?? WOULD YOU RATHER SEE THOSE PRISONERS NOT DOING ANYTHING AND BEING HOUSE AND FED AT OUR OWN EXPENSES AND WOULD YOU RATHER BUY GOODS MADE OUTSIDE OF THE COUNTRY THAN MADE HERE IN USA.. at least those prisoners however they got there are doing something and learning a trade.. COME ON GUYS WHATS WRONG WITH YOU..DAMN OF THEY DO AND DAMN IF THEY DONT.. lets be realistic and see the PLUS SIDE ON ALL OF THESE.. if these corporations cant make their goods cheaper in the states.. they will eventually shipped the work JOBS OVERSEAS and WE ARE GOING TO LOSE MORE THAT WAY…

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  15. Just wanted to add in. I did 27 months in prison back in 2008-2010 and after a few months of gling to school inside i got a job. I made less than $200 a month working 40hours in a highly demanding woodshop. Did i complain about my wages ever? No. Why? Its a damn BLESSING to get a job while incarcerated. Not aright. That job made me feel like a normal person again and not like the scum i felt i was while sitting in my cell. its great i see some of you concerned about rights and saying its unfair. You say it from your comfy couch in your comfy house. But switch the situationand go sit in a concrete closet smelling your cellies shit all day and i bet youll be begging for that job, regardless of pay. Time out of the cell was the real Pay. The money was just extra.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I never said that providing inmates with meaningful tasks is a bad thing. Allowing private corporations to benefit from the low wages paid to inmates is a different story.

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  16. This is a really stupid article in a variety of ways. First off, it’s wrong to complain about Whole Foods specifically since Haystack Mountain Goat Cheese is widely available in many different stores: Costco, Kroger, Sprouts, Safeway, Vitamin Cottage, you name it. I have no idea where Rasha B. Foda lives, but in Colorado where Haystack Mountain is located, their products are extremely widespread. If you actually know about Haystack Mountain, you would also realize that the dairy owned by the prison is one of many dairies where they get their milk. One of the main reasons, why they chose it, is because the prison-owned dairy is one of the few that produce enough goat milk so Haystack can produce its product. Oh and Whole Foods sells a lot more cheese than just one brand.

    This type of prison labor is not unusual (http://www.prisonpolicy.org/prisonindex/prisonlabor.html)…You should be attacking our prison-industrial complex instead of what basically amounts to attacking a small cheesemaker and the stores that sell it.

    Even if you don’t agree with the way Haystack labors its cheese, surely there are worse ways that our capitalism produces products (Apple products for example: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30532463). This is why we should be against things like TPP that potentially encourage abusive practices through international trade. Going after small cheesemakers seems very short-sighted.

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    • I live in NJ. I didn’t single out Haystack. I object to any private company benefitting from cheap prison labor. The reason why prison labor can meet the demand is because it’s so cheap and inmates are willing to do just about anything. If they had to pay market rates for that labor they could never make the margins they make thanks to prison labor.

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  17. It’s still organic… And these industry programs have been being run by the correctional system for many, many years. Who the hell do you think cleans our highways, laid our railways, and work on the huge agricultural farms all over the country? Work is work. A man sitting in his cell doing nothing is of no use to society. It’s been like this since the FED took over the correctional system, and it’s a big reason they took it over. It gives inmates a sense of purpose. Just because they’re in jail, does that mean they should get to live for free? Hell no. They get paid 65 cents a day because the rest of the money gets paid to the prison to upkeep it so that we (the tax payers!) don’t have to foot the whole damn bill. Jeez. Anyone who didn’t know this is simply willfully ignorant, and anyone who is repulsed by it is just plain dumb. To the author; do some actual research and report the WHOLE story… not just the parts that will put other ignorant people in a twist. Oy.

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  18. 13th Amendment to the US Constitution.
    1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted”……it doesn’t get any more black & white than that. The fact that they get paid at all is a privilege that isn’t guaranteed by the US constitution. So, for you to call it “slave” labor; you are either very uneducated about the constitutional rights of the US, or you are very uneducated about the definition of the word “slave”.

    As a side note to the author….you might want to rethink that Starbuck’s latte or Victoria’s Secret bathrobe for future purchases. Seems like you want to make a point by “never shopping at Whole Foods” again, without actually doing your homework as to what possibly (in your sphere of life) you take for granted of where it may be produced.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2008/07/what-do-prisoners-make-victorias-secret

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    • and…..

      before you start to babble on about how “laws like that are the problem”…the 13th Amendment was added in 1865, looooong before the privatization of prisons was even a fleeting thought in the minds of any entrepreneur.

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  19. Free meals, room an board??? if your unjustly imprisoned just so the government an its affiliates can make a Buck, billions of them to be exact! Its truly disturbing and vile! This is nothing more than attempt from the government to immulate slavery an its trillions it made off the backs of blacks. This is just a sneaky an diabolical way of doing it. Being persecuted for your crime is one thing trumped up, false that doesn’t fit the crime is another. Where’s the justice in that???

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  20. Some of your comments are killing me! “If you can’t do the crime don’t do the time” REALLY? let’s see if you take that same approach when you or your children are arrested on some trumped up an inflated charges!! May God be with you then… He has a funny way of making people eat there words.

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  21. “I won’t be buying anything from “Whole Foods” again.”

    Oh please. Does this company make all of the cheese at WF? No. Do they even make all of their goat cheese? I doubt it. We’re talking about 1 product out of thousands. If you don’t want to buy that product, fine. But if you’re going to completely boycott stores that carry any products produced by “exploited” labor (SE Asian sweatshops, migrant farm workers, inmate labor, etc.), then you’re quickly going to run out of places to shop.

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      • But you still shop somewhere, which means you’re probably supporting exploitation. If you want a boycott to be even potentially effective, then you need to make it reasonable.

        WF also buys baked goods from Greyston Bakery, a company that employs former felons unable to find work anywhere and then donates the profits to community charities. So a total boycott of Whole Foods would hurt them too.

        But that doesn’t matter to people like you. You just want to find things to complain about on the internet to make you feel better than everyone else.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. The numbers don’t work. To earn $400 in a month while getting paid $.60 per hour, an inmate would have to work a minimum of 21.5 hours per day, every day, for the entire month.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I dont object to the activity or even the pay rate. My beef is with the unjust enrichment of private employers, the adverse impact the practice has on the labor market at large, and the perverse incentive this gives the prison industry to maintain full capacity of their prisons.

      Like

  23. Here is a revealing excerpt from a much more thorough article on this subject:

    “Alex Friedmann, now an activist and managing editor of Prison Legal News, spent a decade in prison for armed robbery and other violent crimes and worked in a PIE-certified business that produced, among other things, Batman T-shirts for a Taco Bell promotion—endlessly silk-screening the profile of the great fictional crime fighter as penance for his own crime. His fellow inmates did even more mindless labor, such as inflating basketballs, one after another, all day. He views the skills-training mission of the work programs largely as a sham. “Many of the industry jobs don’t really impart job skills,” he says. “They keep guys busy, but they aren’t getting real-world job experience that will make them employable on the outside. License plates are mostly made in prisons, so you have to return to prison to do that job.” There aren’t many jobs raising partridges on the outside, either.

    That, it turns out, is a consequence of design. Both PIE and state prison industries are generally required to ensure that their chosen industries won’t crowd out existing private firms. If you stick with industries with very little domestic competition, you can elegantly skirt that problem. Game-bird and dairy-buffalo husbandry are two industries so underrepresented in this country that no one much cares if you put prisoners to work in them at extreme poverty wages that would render competition nearly impossible.

    Smith was frank about the strategy of keeping his businesses small, far beyond their production capability. “If I wanted to, I could have my prisoners build every desk and chair in every Wells Fargo in the country,” he told me. “But I don’t want to do that.” Wiser, he said, to stick with sectors that were invisible and niche, just small enough so that no one—not private enterprise, not organized labor, not consumers—would notice. “Prison officials don’t want to get into industries that will cause businesses on the outside to go to the media and raise hell,” says Alex Friedmann. Consumers are uncomfortable feasting on the products of slave labor; furniture companies tend to notice when they lose contracts that involve bidding on the open market; unions tend to protest competition from indentured servants.”

    http://www.psmag.com/business-economics/from-our-prison-to-your-dinner-table

    And this is a University of California study that outlines sample costs for a 500-head dairy operation. It lists sample hourly wage at $9.59, significantly higher than 60 cents per day.

    http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/pdf/8209.pdf

    Like

  24. Rasha…..I am shocked and appalled by the fact that you are an attorney. Your emotional fueled article that is filled with nothing but misrepresented facts is painful to read. If this is how you debate/represent your clients, I really do feel sorry for them. In my opinion, you give our profession a bad name by how you represent yourself in this article.

    Let me reiterate……

    13th Amendment to the US Constitution.
    1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted”…….

    I would expect, as a lawyer, that you would be familiar with the US Constitution and the rights it gives (and does not give). If you are, then you must not be familiar with a free market economy. I say this because of your liberal use of the term “slave labor”. Maybe you are just unfamiliar with the definition of the term “slave labor”. At any rate, please do your research; it wasn’t until the privatization of prisons that inmates even STARTED to get paid. Inmates (before the privatization of prisons) were expected to do such work for free; and the state would then sell the products to manufacturers or the free market.

    As far as you “not shopping at Whole Foods” and then later to go on to say “Agreed. that’s why I don’t shop very much anymore. I buy only what I can’t live without.” I would bet that you don’t give it a second thought as to why the “cheap” petrol station that you go to is able to offer fuel for $0.10 less per gallon than the competitors, OR why that severely out of season tomato only costs $1.29. Your misrepresentation of Whole Foods (they carry a product whose MANUFACTURER used a PRODUCT that came from prison labor) makes me think that you have an emotional biased towards Whole Foods and this was a way for you to seek therapeutic justice?? Why not write the article about the manufacturer rather than going after the Sister’s Husband’s Brother’s friend?

    Like

    • pfft…I got an A in Con law. I know it well. As for the writing – it’s not my article. I shared and excerpt from someone else’s and in a comment above another article refers to prison labor as slave labor too…so, I guess I’m not alone. The problem isn’t with the fact that they don’t get paid, but that private companies get to profit from their labor. The benefits of their labor, if free, should inure to all the citizens of the community in which they committed the “crime,” assuming the crime was not something designed to keep the prisons full.

      In short, I have no regrets. I said what I meant and I meant what I said. prison labor for the “free market” is unjust enrichment and an abomination. There’s a reason why they keep a lid on it – it’s scandalous.

      Like

      • “pfft…I got an A in Con law. I know it well.”

        You just qualified your “experience” by citing the marks that you received at University?….really??!! I guess that would explain a few things.

        “As for the writing – it’s not my article.”

        It was YOUR article (and your subsequent responses) that I am criticizing. Even your title (which is misleading at best) is a poor attempt to discredit an otherwise EXTREMELY creditable corporation that does more to add to local economy than most, and has an impeccable business model.

        “in a comment above another article refers to prison labor as slave labor too…so, I guess I’m not alone.”

        you justify your misuse of a term because someone else did it as well??!! The propagation of disinformation is irresponsible at best. Language is a very powerful tool and should be treated with respect. Your misuse of the language only serves to discredit yourself.

        As far as the citizens of a community benefiting from the labor of an incarcerated person, ONLY in the community in which the crime was committed. Where in the constitution or in which legal precedent does it state that prison labor (paid or otherwise) should ONLY benefit the citizens of the community in which the crime was committed? If you’ve ever taken a train trip, driven on an interstate highway, or even enjoyed a picturesque view in a state that was not your own, you are then (yourself) exploiting the prison labor you claim to abhor.

        Like

  25. I’m a little alarmed by this article…I work for Whole Foods and I am in fact the cheese buyer for my store. We do carry Haystack Mountain products(1 cheese to be exact), but these cheeses are not exclusively made for Whole Foods. No store is obligated to carry this product and to be honest with you I can hardly get the product in due to goat milk shortages (since goats do not produce enough milk like cows do). So, in other words, other food stores/establishments can easily carry Haystack Mountain products, not just Whole Foods.

    Like

    • Why do you think there are goat milk shortages? Could the cheap prison labor exploited by huge national corporations play a role in making it not a feasible (or palatable) for small local family owned stores. Not blaming Whole Foods alone. The entire economy here in the US and abroad is dominated by worker exploitation and human arbitrage. So it’s hardly surprising or uncommon.

      Like

      • No…there is goat milk shortages because goats do not produce enough milk like cows do. In fact, other goats milk cheeses we carry are coming in out of stock because there isn’t enough goat milk. Cheese makers actually wait until the goats have had their babies so they are properly producing milk.

        Like

      • A….

        Don’t try to use logic as a tool to debate with her. Logic clearly won’t break through her misinformed, fantasy based reality.

        Like

  26. This article is SUPER unfair and really only explains one small detail. My family used to run a smokery for cheeses, that we would then sell to local and regional stores; including Whole Foods. They also buy from local merchants. Just pay attention to what you’re buying. I’m assuming all grocery stores have products in them that have questionable labor practices behind them.

    Like

  27. If an 8-hour day and 60 cents per day that’s 7-8 cents per hour – 1% of the minimum $7.25. That’s like paying $200 for a $20,000 car. A really good way to reduce/essentially eliminate labor costs. Clearly fascist.

    Like

  28. Whole Foods I plan to eat more cheese and find more ways to use your cheese produced by a person that was put in a place because they made little effort to produce but are now given the opportunity too. It’s great to keep them productive rather than stare at a wall and tell them you deserve more for what tax payers are paying! Idiot! Work for what you have. Work for what you want! Your work will pay in the end!

    Like

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