Dream Corps
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Wage slavery continues to exist to this day within our prison system. In California, people currently incarcerated are drastically underpaid wages that don’t allow them to fulfill financial obligations, such as restitution, fines, fees, and child support. Currently, individuals serving their sentences earn from $0.08 to $0.37 or $0.30 to $0.95 under California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) employment. These earnings do not reflect the deductions that most incarcerated people pay for restitution which is 55 percent deduction of any income received. About 85 percent of people return home with debt, averaging at about $13,607. The inability to pay these types of debts fuels the cycle of poverty and incarceration. Late fees, payment plan fees, interest rates, and collection fees render it impossible to meet their basic needs, pay restitution, support their families, and successfully re-enter society. Increasing these wages for people serving their sentences would allow them to fulfill financial obligations and prepare for reentry and would reclassify them as employees.

Legislation

  • Raise the pay scale for those incarcerated to minimum wage over the course of several years.
  • Each incarcerated person would begin paying state, local, and federal taxes. 
  • Once the taxes are deducted, a number of other deductions will occur:
    • 10% to go towards the incarcerated person restitution obligations. 
    • 20% to be directed towards an account that will act as a savings account and will be awarded to the incarcerated person upon his or her release.
    • 20% to take care of any civil court responsibilities (child support, family support, spousal support).
  • Throughout the implementation process CDCR and CALPIA will be required to track all pertinent data, such as money that has been paid towards restitution, child support, and spousal support.