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Cuomo supports bumping up wages to state prison inmates

2019-08-31

Gov. Cuomo’s ready to bump the minimum wage for working cons in state prisons. The governor didn’t say if he favors executive action to grant a wage hike, or if he supports a bill proposed earlier this year by Brooklyn state Sen. Zellnor Myrie to hike the minimum for state jail inmates to $3/hour. (chrisjo/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Gov. Cuomo’s ready to bump the minimum wage for working cons in state prisons.

The governor didn’t say if he favors executive action to grant a wage hike, or if he supports a bill proposed earlier this year by Brooklyn state Sen. Zellnor Myrie to hike the minimum for state jail inmates to $3/hour.

"I would support a wage increase for prisoners who work in our prisons,” Cuomo said on Tuesday as fended off criticism of new license plates and fees.

Prisoners who work for Corcraft, the brand name for the Division of Correctional Industries, operated by the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, reportedly work for an average of 65 cents an hour producing everything from desks and soap to license plates — inmates at the Auburn Correctional Facility pound out the plates — with the lowest wage 16 cents per hour.

A 2017 report from the Prison Policy Initiative found that New York prisoners can get paid as low as 10 cents per hour.

In a Daily News op-ed, Myrie condemned the low prisoner pay as “sub-sweatshop wages.”

“Those serving sentences in Auburn — whose labor, funded through taxpayer dollars, generates (Corcraft) revenue — do not earn what similarly situated workers earn,” he wrote. “They do not earn a minimum wage. In fact, many workers make less than 50 cents an hour.”

“The wage disparity remains the same across the board: State law allows these workers to be severely underpaid because they are incarcerated, all but helping ensure that they will be consigned to poverty if and when they manage to get out of prison,” he argued.

According to a 2017 report in Gothamist, New York City is the largest single purchaser of Corcraft products, with a spokeswoman telling the news outlet at that time that the Department of Citywide Services spent more than $15 million on Corcraft items that fiscal year.

With News Wire Services