Stop the University System of Maryland's use of prison labor.

Stop the University System of Maryland's use of prison labor.

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Maryland Correctional Enterprises (MCE) contracts Maryland prisoners to manufacture goods without fair compensation. The average prisoner makes $0.20 an hour—well below Maryland’s minimum wage of $11 an hour—with up to 80% of these wages being withheld to fund “room and board” costs. MCE’s incarcerated employees earn at most between $150 and $200 a month.

The University of Maryland plays an active role in exploiting these prisoners and their labor through their partnership with MCE. Many of the furniture items on campus, including dorm room furnishings and classroom desks, come from Maryland Correctional Enterprises. In fact, the University of Maryland received about $3.5 million worth of furniture in 2014. The University of Maryland cannot in good conscience claim it is a “do good” campus while simultaneously playing an active role in supporting mass incarceration and exploiting prison labor.

For over 150 years, the prison system has capitalized on a loophole in the 13th amendment to exploit incarcerated people, which disproportionately affects Black Americans. This amendment, ratified in 1865, banned slavery of all forms, “except as a punishment for crime.” The void in the post-slavery labor market led to the manipulation of the criminal justice system as the primary mechanism to oppress and exploit Black people and other people of color for involuntary labor without proper compensation. 

We ask that the University System of Maryland (made up of twelve schools)—and specifically the University of Maryland, College Park—divests from Maryland Correctional Enterprises and immediately ends its involvement in prison labor exploitation. 

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The money you donate goes to change.org and is not put towards criminal justice or prison reform. If you would like to donate to this cause, we recommend checking out the Equal Justice Initiative (https://eji.org/ and the Marshall Project (https://www.themarshallproject.org/