Prisons + Tshirts = Jobs
The following is a comment I posted to a California newspaper's online Op-Ed complaining that the idea being considered to release 27,000 low risk and elderly prisoners was being unfairly opposed citing that just because the state has a 70% recidivism rate and high unemployment doesn't mean their presence among law abiding citizens is a recipe for disaster:
I'm a former Californian (SF Bay Area) and you're missing a GOLDEN opportunity.
California doesn't have jobs or money, so why not setup a voluntary program where these same 27,000 low risk inmates can choose to serve out there term working in retrofitted prisons doing the same $.30 an hour work the Chinese are doing making tshirts, etc. with the profits going to pay for their incarceration and any money spilling over being set aside for them when they are released and/or going toward teacher merit pay increases.
You also save money because with a steady 5 day, 40 hour work week, these voluntary prisoners are getting the same job training in house instead of as a separate program.
Will they get these same jobs on the outside? Likely not, but how many people work at their first job? I haven't pushed a mop and bucket in almost ten years.
This will still mean jobs for normal citizens because a tshirt can't simply be made in one place:
1) The cotton must first be grown
2) then it's shipped to a mill (or prison in this case) for spinning into fabric
3) the fabric is then cut to patterns and sewn
4) finishing of labels, tags, screen printing, and embroidery is added
5) tshirt is packaged and shipped to a distribution center or direct to a retail location.
There are too many steps to keep in one location which is why jobs flooded to China en masse because it wasn't cost effective to do a few of the steps here and the rest over there.
Even if ALL steps are done within prisons, you still need local shipping/packaging/freight companies to deliver these products and there's an entire set of logistics contractors that go along with supporting that setup alone which equals.....JOBS!!!
Work smarter, not harder California. You just may be worth living in again some day.
[Published directly from my blog. "Highlight" isn't working correctly on my site at the moment. After repeated attempts, the story's text isn't showing up, only the title.]