Incarcerated workers at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, commonly known as Angola, have filed a class-action lawsuit against the prison warden, Department of Corrections representatives and Prison Enterprises. They claim that they have been subjected to inhumane labor conditions while working on the prison’s 18,000-acre farm.
“This labor serves no legitimate penological or institutional purpose. It’s purely punitive, designed to ‘break’ incarcerated men and ensure their submission.”
Represented by the advocacy organizations Promise of Justice Initiative and Rights Behind Bars, the plaintiffs are asking the court to find their forced labor unconstitutional and demand an end to this generations-long practice of compulsory agricultural labor within the prison system.
Prison enterprises and prison profits
In their own words, Prison Enterprises is “a unique blend of business and government providing a public service” and offer “quality products and services to our customers at competitive prices.”
They sell goods such as furniture, uniforms, bedding and cleaning products – all made by incarcerated persons – to government agencies and non profits. In fiscal year 2021 – 2022, total sales amounted to over 29 million dollars for Prison Enterprises.