Plans to allow two private businesses to hire inmates at Texas prisons cleared the first of three hurdles Thursday, despite the objections of organized labor groups. Unique Performance, a company that produces muscle car kits, and a clothing company called American Image Wear received a committee’s authorization Thursday to set up shop at two state prisons later this year, reports the Houston Chronicle.
The vote by the Private Sector Prison Industries Oversight Authority Board was unanimous and occurred without discussion. Several labor leaders, including those with the Texas AFL-CIO, filed a formal protest but none attended the meeting. As many as 500 low-risk Texas inmates now earn wages working for private businesses. The initiative is part of the Prison Industries Enhancement Program, a federally approved program. The proposal approved Thursday would allow Unique Performance to set up a car shop at the Boyd Unit in Central Texas and American Image Wear to hire inmates at the Telford Unit in Northeast Texas. The proposals now need clearance from federal and state officials.