industrial prison | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Corrections

The term industrial prison refers to a correctional facility that operates like a factory, emphasizing producing goods and services for sale in the market.

An industrial prison refers to a correctional facility that functions like a factory. This prison type aims at producing goods and services that can be sold on the market. However, there is more to an industrial prison than just its operations. To fully understand this term, we need to look at the participants, the benefits, the criticisms, and the controversy surrounding this concept.

Who Works in an Industrial Prison?

The workers in an industrial prison are its inmates. They could be employed in various sectors, such as manufacturing or agriculture. For their work, these prisoners earn wages, often very minimal. This system gives the prisoners a unique role within the correctional facility. It makes them not just inhabitants of the prison but also contributors to its function.

The Benefits

Some people see real value in industrial prisons. Supporters argue that these facilities offer useful job training and work experience for prisoners. Acquiring these skills can be invaluable for inmates once they’re released.

Another major point made by proponents is the financial aspect. The goods and services produced in these prisons can be sold, generating revenue. This income can help offset the cost of running the prison, which could ultimately reduce the burden on taxpayers.


However, not everyone views such facilities in a positive light. Critics often label them as exploitative. They argue that the wages paid to prisoners for their work are extremely low, sometimes only a few cents per hour.

Another point of contention is the safety and fairness of these facilities. Critics argue that the desire for profits can lead to unsafe working conditions. They also assert that using prison labor could create unfair competition for private businesses.

The Controversy Surrounding Industrial Prisons

The concept is controversial. Opinions about their effectiveness and morality vary widely. Some countries and jurisdictions have completely banned the use of prison labor. These regions see industrial prisons as harmful and unfair to prisoners.

On the other hand, other jurisdictions continue to use industrial prisons as a way to provide employment and generate income. They see these facilities as practical and beneficial to both the inmates and society.

The Significance of Industrial Prisons

Despite the differing views, the impact of these prisons cannot be ignored. For those in favor, industrial prisons are seen as a way to rehabilitate inmates and contribute to the economy. For critics, they are a form of exploitation that needs addressing.

What’s clear is that these facilities can have significant effects on prisoners, the prison system, and the economy. They can influence prisoners’ future prospects, taxpayers’ responsibilities, and businesses’ competition.

Whether these effects are positive or negative depends on one’s perspective. It is crucial, therefore, to consider all the aspects of industrial prisons. Only then can we understand their full implications and navigate the controversies they ignite.

In Conclusion

Industrial prisons represent a blending of the correctional system and industry, where inmates are not only incarcerated but also put to work. This system has its supporters, who see its economic and rehabilitative potential. It also has its detractors, who argue against the exploitative nature of these facilities. The differing perspectives make industrial prisons a controversial yet significant element within the criminal justice system.

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 05/24/2023

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