Since 2008, thousands of federal inmates have lost their jobs as authorities shutter and scale back operations at prison recycling, furniture, cable, and electronics assembly factories to try to make up $65 million in losses, USA Today reports. The job cuts mean a dramatic reduction in job training for inmates preparing for release, lost wages for prisoners to pay child support, and other court-ordered fines, and more tension in overcrowded institutions.
More than 7,000 federal prisoners have been cut from the work rolls in two years, and up to 800 more are expected to be dropped in the next several months. The latest cut, announced last week, will close nine factories from Pennsylvania to California and includes reductions in staff at 11 others, Federal Prison Industries spokeswoman Julie Rozier says. She says the cuts represent some of the largest reductions in the 75-year history of the federal prison workforce. “We’re feeling the same pressures that are present in the overall economy,” she says. This year, 16,115 of 211,146 federal inmates are working in the factory jobs, down from 23,152 in 2008.