The prison labor is commonly done in jail nowadays. In some correctional centers, prisoners are paid less than the minimum wage amount. This practice can be trace back to many decades ago. It is important to understand that this is not to be considered as “slave labor.” There are key benefits that anyone who survives working in a prison can enjoy.
History of Prison Labor
During the Victorian Era, the prisoners didn’t go to work but the jail guards would make them run in treadmills to keep them occupied. In the 1900s, prisoners began breaking rocks and sewing mail bags. This practice lasted from the 1920s to the 1980s.
In the 1970s, prisoner jobs became more advanced. The typical jobs during that time were tedious and repetitive, just like packaging a product. These prisoners were paid less than the minimum amount. They were required to work until they were released. It was considered as an offense when a prisoner opted not to participate.
Nowadays, the jobs in prison are more interesting, but are not enough to employ all the prisoners in the cell. Qualifications were set to determine who would be eligible for the available jobs. The prisoners are categorized according to their skills and capabilities. Grade A prisoners, the highest category, have the most interesting jobs and are paid more. It would be unavoidable, however, that there will be prisoners who would be forced to take on jobs that they do not like. In this case, they have to know how to survive working in a prison.
Some companies also provide workshops for prisoners. These workshops will teach them livelihood programs that they can earn from during their stay in prison and even outside the prison. Prisoners use their wage to buy food and pay for their phone calls. Others use their wage to buy the things they need in the jail.
The Truth about Prison Labor
UNICOR and FPI are programs that aim to prepare the prisoners for their release. It is common that job availability outside the prison is difficult for ex-convicts. These correctional programs prepare them for that possibility.
Most jobs given to prisoners are owned by private enterprises. The PIE program or the Prison Industry Enhancement program is beneficial to these companies because it cuts the costs of labor.
Common Jobs Inside Prison
The common jobs inside prison are:
There are other jobs that are more interesting than these jobs, just like book translation and graphic services.
How to Survive Working in a Prison?
Although there are some benefits of working in a prison, some prisoners dislike their job. The common reason is the level of exhaustion and the low wages. There are also times when a prisoner has to give a part of his wages to a jail guard, which is quite frustrating.
Prisoners can take these tips to learn how to survive working in a prison:
1. Do the job to keep busy.
Boredom is the major problem or prisoners in prison. Boredom makes people depressed. Just take the job as a hobby to keep sane.
2.Think of the useful things that can be bought by the wage.
There are several things that one can buy inside the prison that are useful. Use it to pay for food, toiletries, and phone calls.
3. Think of the job as a preparation in the life outside the prison.
Finding a job will be difficult for prisoners who have gone out of prison. Take the experience as an opportunity to be absorbed by the company to continually work for them even after serving a sentence.
4. Respect fellow prisoners and prison guards.
Always be courteous to the other inmates and most especially to the prison guards. Don’t give them any reason to make prison life more difficult. Remain civil when dealing with others and always be cautious during interactions both verbal and non-verbal.
When dealing with fellow inmates, be respectful to avoid possible altercations that can lead to greater problems.
With prison guards, keep in mind that they are there to keep order and the slightest infraction can spell trouble. Remember to abide by what they say. Hence, if they issue an order, it is best to follow and then ask questions later or none at all.
5. Stay disciplined and take on responsibility
Like any other type of employment, it is important to stay committed to the given task and follow the rules as set by prison management. Demonstrating commitment to the job is also a good way to boost brownie points with people in high positions.
6. Gain education
Hit the books and get education to increase knowledge and skills. Consequently, it can open more and better employment opportunities. In turn, it could also mean a higher salary.
7. Don’t get into gambling
Prison jobs don’t really pay much so getting into gambling is not a good idea. It is best to stay away from activities such as this. Be thrifty and spend what little income that comes in wisely.
8. Keep a positive attitude about your situation
Working in prison may not be the ideal employment setup that many would think about. But rather than be discouraged by the situation, look on the positive side. Given the circumstances, it is better than having nothing to pass the time in jail.
Maintaining a positive attitude can help make it easier to carry out the job. Eventually, working becomes something to look forward to rather than to dread.
9. Avoid stress at work
Work can still get stressful regardless of where the workplace is. To avoid stress, keep your focus on the given tasks and let go of other thoughts such as how to get out of jail sooner. Too many thoughts can lead to anxiety and become a major distraction at work.
Set aside other thoughts and take this time as an opportunity to be productive. At the same time, try to have some fun to further minimize stressful conditions.
10. Be patient
Patience is essential in the workplace. With patience, challenges and tasks may be easier to take on and get done. It is also helpful when dealing with coworkers with less than appealing characteristics.
Patience also helps cultivate an atmosphere of cooperation at the workplace. Hence, it can significantly encourage teamwork among fellow workers.
Practicing patience in a workplace like prison may be easier said than done. However, making the effort pays off in the long run as it can help prevent bad situations from turning up.
Prison labor can be a rewarding activity to keep prisoners productive while serving jail time.