PRESS RELEASE: Dignity For Incarcerated Workers

#cut50 Commends California Senate’s Resolution To Reexamine Equitable Wages for Incarcerated Workers

The Senate concurrent resolution vows to review the pay scale for incarcerated workers in state correctional facilities, in order to benefit rehabilitation and successful reentry

SACRAMENTO, CA, JANUARY 14, 2020 —Today, top criminal justice reformers at #cut50, a program of Dream Corps, join their partners the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) / All of Us or None (AOUON), State Building & Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTCC), Western Center on Law and Poverty (WCLP), Young Women’s Freedom Center, in cosponsoring California Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 69. Authored by Senator Bradford, SCR 69 seeks to express the Legislature’s desire for incarcerated workers to receive fair and just wages during their time working for the Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA), the Division of Juvenile Facilities, and/or the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Introduced in Senate today, SCR 69 expresses a need to reexamine pay for incarcerated workers to ensure equitable wages, financial independence, and successful rehabilitation and reentry.

Over an estimated 42,000 people work full time while they’re incarcerated in California, earning from $0.08 an hour and, at most, $1.00 an hour. Of those workers, roughly 3,000 work in fire conservation camps making at most $3.90 per day; when in emergency situations, working to fight fires they are, earning $1 an hour – eight percent of what firefights typically earn – while they risk their lives to protect local communities from harm.

“Across California, thousands of incarcerated people work as electricians, carpenters, cooks, and many other skilled positions that are essential to the operations of a state prison,” said Esteban Nunez, #cut50’s State Policy Director. “The current pay scale dehumanizes incarcerated workers by stripping them of the dignity that they should feel after completing a hard day’s work and gives them no opportunities to accumulate wealth to help them face ever-evolving challenges upon reentry. We are encouraged by today’s introduction of SCR 69 and hope that this is the start to a comprehensive and humanizing change to California’s wage system for incarcerated workers. Incarceration does not justify inhumane compensation.”

Only 55 percent of formerly incarcerated individuals report earnings in their first year out of prison and 60 percent have debt incurred through the criminal justice system. A change in the pay scale would only dignify the work that incarcerated individuals complete during their sentences, but would also promote saving money to help better position them to succeed upon reentry. 

#cut50 is joined in their support by other criminal justice organizations, including the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) / All of Us or None (AOUON), State Building & Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTCC), Western Center on Law and Poverty and Young Women’s Freedom Center.

More information about #cut50’s work on California policy can be found here.

About #cut50: 

#cut50,­ a program of Dream Corps­, is a national bipartisan effort to reduce the number of people in our prisons and jails while making our communities safer. Our campaigns are led by people who have been directly impacted by the justice system and want to create change.


Media Contacts:

Abree Dominguez

[email protected]

Sunshine Sachs

[email protected] 


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