How Corporations Exploit the Incarcerated

The prison industrial complex (PIC) is the intricate network of companies and investors benefiting from of the carceral system and millions of incarcerated Americans, as well as the legislators and governmental systems that enable them. While many people are familiar with private prisons, who are paid (often at a higher rate than public prisons) by the American taxpayer, the complex includes other players: companies who sell goods and services at exorbitant prices to incarcerated people and companies who pay extremely low (or no) wages for prison labor. Those operators, prison labor companies, and goods providers spend millions on lobbying, who contribute to making the exploitation of the incarcerated easier. Behind the whole system are banks and financial institutions, who extend credit to all parties to this economy. The complexity of the prison industrial complex makes action supporting the incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, or their families difficult to extend at a systematic level.


This cause is built from a variety of expert data sources. Divest from companies profiting from imprisonment and prison labor (as identified by the American Friends Service Committee and Worth Rises), the banks who have the most money invested in private prisons (as identified by In the Public Interest), and the companies which contribute the most to pro-incarceration lobbying (as identified on the ALEC leadership page). Invest in companies who invest in and employ individuals with criminal records, which signed the Obama administration’s Fair Chance Business Pledge.

Additional Information

Worth Rises

Critical Resistance

American Friends Service Committee

The Movement for Black Lives