In our work with people in prisons across Washington, we hear over and over about the economic exploitation and injustices they face in custody. Meanwhile, the Department of Corrections and its quasi-business division, Correctional Industries, draw enormous cost savings and revenue off people in its facilities, both as laborers and consumers.

Yesterday, CLS released a 40-page report, Overcharged: Coerced Labor, Low Pay & High Costs in Washington’s Prisons, detailing this shameful system from the perspectives of people living and working in prison. While the experiences shared in Overcharged are shocking, they should not be surprising. The mass incarceration and exploitation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are deeply entrenched aspects of our economy, rooted in slavery. Through time, this racist exploitation has been sustained by policies such as the Black Codes, Jim Crow, segregation, and the wars on drugs and poverty. And it is being sustained by policies now. We can change those policies.

Please read and share the report as we work together toward a Washington that chooses not to uphold and profit off the “slavery loophole” in the Thirteenth Amendment. Our deepest gratitude goes to the 66 individuals in Washington prisons who participated in surveys and interviews to bring this report to life.