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The Federal Prison Industrial System - Made In America
1. Books for the Blind
There are 36 prison Braille-writing programs in the United States. Through the American Printing House for the Blind, offenders help write K-12 textbooks for blind students. In Missouri, the Center for Braille and Narration Production employs 102 convicts, many whom are certified through the Library of Congress. They transcribe anything, from novels to music.
In the 1990s, Victoria's Secret and J. C. Penney hired subcontractor Third Generation, who, in turn, hired people to stitch their lingerie and leisure wear — 35 South Carolina inmates, Mother Jones reports.
3. Park benches and picnic tables
In Florida, PRIDE (Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises) trains about 4000 inmates, who produce and provide over 3000 products and services. PRIDE's forestry service makes park furniture like picnic tables, park benches, and wooden trashcan holders. Sixty-nine percent of PRIDE graduates land jobs after jail.
4. Military jackets and Battle Garb
Federal Prison Industries, better known as UNICOR, consists entirely of convicts working at 89 factories. Together, they help clothe the United States military, making jackets, uniforms, helmets, shoes, and even flak vests. For police officers, they craft body armor and holsters.
5. Human Silhouette Targets
Ironically, convicts at UNICOR also make human silhouette targets for law enforcer training. The shadowy targets help crime fighters in the FBI, Homeland Security, and U.S. Customs hone their aims.
6. Old Ikea products - NOT USA
From the 1970s to 1980s, political prisoners in Cold War-struck East Germany made products for the furniture company IKEA. The prisoners were reportedly paid 40 East German marks per month, about 4 percent of the monthly salary of the average East German worker.
7. Baseball Caps
Few things are as American as the baseball cap and free enterprise. Well, ball caps happen to be one of the few items UNICOR is allowed to sell to private customers and companies. (In an effort to keep private goods and prison-made goods from competing, UNICOR is generally forbidden from selling products to anyone outside the government.)
Colorado Correction Industries oversees approximately 60 inmate work programs. Jailbirds at Fremont County Jail, for example, build fiberglass-sealed canoes. They use scraps from the prison's furniture shop and sell the canoes for around $1500. Other Colorado programs help craft those ubiquitous college dormitory desks and bookshelves.
9. Artsy knick knacks
San Quentin State Prison in California is a scary place. It houses some of the most menacing criminals in the nation, and it's home to the largest death row in the United States. But at least it has a gift shop. There, you can buy convict-made music boxes, drawings, and paintings. You can even get yourself a greeting card made by one of death row's own.
10. Blue jeans
The Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution is home to a 47,000 square foot facility: The Prison Blues Jeans Factory. It makes jeans, jackets, T-shirts, and hats, which you can check out here.
In Colorado, the Wild Horses Inmate Program (WHIP) trains wild mustangs, prepping them for adoption. Since 1986, the program has trained over 5000 mustangs. In Maryland, Second Chances Farm takes in retired thoroughbred racehorses. It rescues the out-of-work horses from the slaughterhouse and teaches outgoing inmates animal caretaking skills.
Get out of jail bonus: Coffee beans
When some inmates leave the slammer, they roast coffee beans. I Have a Bean, owned by Second Chance Coffee Company, is a roasting plant in Illinois that helps ex-convicts restart their lives. The facility roasts six different kinds of coffee bean, from Costa Rica to Ethiopia.
Examples of Prison Companies
Spiderman Video Game Ban User and Remove Pride Flag “Mod”
Popular modding site Nexus Mods has banned the user who removed the Pride flags in the PC version of Marvel's Spider-Man, sparking an outcry that the site has actively disengaged from.
The original entry in the Spider-Man mods was called "Non-Newtonian New York," and replaced the in-game Pride flags dotted around New York City with US flags. The mod garnered far more views than it did downloads, but its apparent anti-LGBTQIA+ stance naturally drew some controversy before its removal by site moderators.
Some users have claimed that the American flag texture was created by Insomniac as a replacement for Pride flags in Middle Eastern releases of Spider-Man. We've been unable to find any evidence that this claim is true. The American flag texture already appears throughout the game where appropriate, including the line of flags outside the UN building.
Nexus Mods says a "sock puppet account" with the 2004-era Urban Dictionary pun name "Mike Hawk" uploaded the file, and says "it was very clearly done deliberately to be a troll mod." As the site's managers explain in the announcement(opens in new tab), "had they not been a coward and had they used their main account instead, we would have simply removed the mod and told them that we did not want to host it."
According to Nexus Mods' file submission guidelines(opens in new tab), "content that may be generally construed as provocative, divisive, objectionable, discriminatory, or abusive toward any real-world individual or group, may be subject to moderation." At a minimum, the flag replacer is certainly provocative toward real-world groups.
As today's announcement from Nexus Mods explains, "In regards to the replacement of Pride flags in this game, or any game, our policy is thus: we are for inclusivity, we are for diversity. If we think someone is uploading a mod on our site with the intent to deliberately be against inclusivity and/or diversity then we will take action against it."
Site managers add that "As a private business, we have a right to choose what content we do and do not want to host on our platform. Respect this right the same way you want respect for your rights." The message concludes: "If this policy upsets you, if we've broken some moral code of conduct as a business that you can't accept, then please, delete your account and move on, as we will."
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