California's Proposed Wage Increase for Prisoners Falls Short of $1 per Hour __________________

By Knowladgey Team

November 27, 2023

Historic Wage Increase Proposal

The California prison system contemplates a groundbreaking wage increase for incarcerated workers, aiming to almost double hourly wages. However, concerns arise as the suggested boost may still leave many earning less than $1 per hour.

CDCR's Proposal for Change

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation proposes eliminating unpaid work assignments and reducing work hours to half-time, asserting that higher wages will assist inmates in repaying restitution for damages caused by their crimes.

Current Prisoner Jobs and Wage Range

Approximately 40% of prisoners engage in various jobs, earning between 8 and 37 cents per hour. The proposed plan seeks to double this range, setting it between 16 and 74 cents per hour, aiming to incentivize work and aid in financial responsibilities.

Skepticism Surrounding the Wage Increase

Some critics argue that the proposed adjustments may only marginally increase hourly wages, with minimal overall improvement in daily pay. State Senator Steven Bradford expresses reservations, emphasizing the need for a "respectable wage."

Legislative Landscape and Funding Concerns

The discussion on prisoner wages aligns with broader debates on prison labor. Lawmakers consider measures like the "End Slavery in California Act," while the current CDCR proposal doesn't require additional state budget funding. However, concerns about budget shortfalls linger.

Future Steps and Advocacy

As the proposed wage increase undergoes public review, questions persist about its adequacy in addressing prisoner concerns. Advocates stress the importance of meaningful changes, urging policymakers to move beyond token gestures and prioritize the dignity of incarcerated individuals.

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