Jun 8, 2019

The prison labor you benefit from

Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images

Prison labor is behind some products and services Americans use every day — from call centers and Whole Foods goat cheese to farmer's market fruit.

By the numbers: About 18,000 incarcerated people participate in publicly run prison programs that offer vocational training, while providing labor to private companies through Federal Prison Industries, also known as UNICOR.

But prison reform advocates see these programs as a form of modern slavery where incarcerated people often make less than $1 per hour and companies aren't always upfront about their labor practices.

A look inside: At a local strawberry festival about 50 miles west of Washington, D.C., Virginia's Department of Corrections showcased produce grown by incarcerated people on local, government-owned farms.

  • Incarcerated people are paid 45 cents an hour for the labor, and can earn various certifications such as a forklift operator license or commercial pesticide handler permit, according to the program’s director John “Kenny” Raiford.
  • The vast majority of the vegetables and fruits grown go back to prison kitchens, which has helped lower food costs. But some asparagus and melons are sold locally.

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Amid racial unrest, a test at the polls

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Eight states plus D.C. are holding primary elections today following a week of intense protests across the country over the brutal police killing of George Floyd.

Why it matters: It's the first major test for voting since the national outcry. Concerns over civil unrest and the police — as well as the coronavirus and expanded absentee voting — could reduce the number of voters showing up in person but heighten tensions for those who do.

Axios-Ipsos poll: America’s big racial divide on police, virus

Data: Ipsos/Axios survey; Note: ±3.2% margin of error; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

A new Axios-Ipsos poll finds that America has a massive racial gulf on each of our twin calamities — trust in police, and fear of the coronavirus.

  • 77% of whites say they trust local police, compared with just 36% of African Americans — one of many measures of a throbbing racial divide in Week 11 of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, taken the week George Floyd was killed by a white policeman in Minneapolis.
Updated 50 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Updates: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: Four police officers were struck by gunfire while standing near a line in St Louis on Monday after a peaceful demonstration, Police Chief John Hayden said early Tuesday. They were all taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He said a small group of people had thrown rocks and fireworks at police officers.