Prison work programs are being cut because instead of serving as cost-cutting alternatives to labor-intensive programs, they're now costing too much themselves.
Michigan and North Carolina have completely eliminated their programs, and Florida reduced its program by nearly 40 percent this year, USA Today reports.
"We actually stopped all but one work crew (which the requester fully funded) in September 2010," Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman John Cordell tells the newspaper.
Michigan taxpayers doled out $10 million in 2010 to operate the crews, most of that money funding the transportation and supervision of the inmates.
Prisoners will still be able to work, but those who want it will have to pay for it, Cordell says
Others point out that prisoners are taking jobs away from an economy that desperately needs more payrolls.
"When a prisoner gets a job, they're taking a job from someone else in the community," says Paul Wright, editor of the Prison Legal News magazine and executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center, tells USA Today.
Cutbacks in inmate labor programs "may be putting jobs back in the community."
President Barack Obama recently unveiled a $447 billion jobs program that calls for the development of infrastructure, although the country remains wary of its success potential.
Obama's job approval rating also stands at the lowest of his presidency at 45 percent, according to a Bloomberg poll.
"I don't think he's done as good a job as I think he could have," says Paul Kaplan, 58, an unemployed Democrat from Philadelphia.
"We were hopeful that things would improve in the economy and they’ve only gotten worse. People in Washington just don’t seem to want to cooperate with each other and work for the people."
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