please read it !

Ma ZhangKai Rongguang.Zhou at SJZ.COL.COM.CN
Sun Dec 7 07:21:22 MST 1997


Ma ZhangKai wrote:
  Friends: Please read here, Is there this kind of thing in USA?
Ma
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Better or Worse?
Among the thousands of government programs that out little more than
waste, fraud  and lots of red tape, miraculously there is one that
actually does what it's supposed to do. it's called UNICOR, and it's run
by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. What it does is take federal convicts,
who otherwise would be watching television or lifting weights, and outs
them to work. It teaches them a job skill and in the process keeps them
out of trouble.
Every morning 5 days a week , some 20 thousand robbers, rapists, drug
dealers, murderers and assorted criminals roll our of bed in their
prison cells and go to work right on the hail grounds, all under very
close supervision, filing through a metal detector and subject to random
pat-downs.
Steve Schwab is the chief operating officer of UNICOR, a company wholly
owned by the federal government that operates a hundred factories like
this one inside the maximum security penitentiary at Louisburg,
Pennsylvania.
While inmates don't enjoy many rights, they do get a salary, anywhere
from less than a quarter to a dollar fifteen an hour. Keeping inmates
too busy to make trouble is the point. If convicts have money, even a
little bit of it, they are less likely to prey on one another.
UNICOR sells a hundred fifty products. It's the Bloomingdale's of prison
industries. They sell prescription glasses, safety eye - wear, linens,
monogrammed towels, executive office furniture, bedroom sets, gloves,
brooms and brushes of all kinds, even targets for target practice! And
it doesn't stop bullet-proof vests for federal law-enforecement
agencies. They also make cables and electronic component parts for army
tanks, jet fighters and the Patriot missile, the same ground to-air
missile used in the Persian Gulf War. In short, there isn't much that
UNICOR doesn't make, and its sales are going sky high.
"what were your sales numbers last year?"
"About 450million dollars. It'll be about 500 million dollars this
coming year in gross sales."
"Wow! That's a giant business! It's not quite 'Fortune 500's but it's
close."
"Well, it's actually a giant correctional program."
A giant correctional program that's getting even bigger! Over the next
four years, the federal government will open 20 new prisons each with
its own UNICOR factory.
Back in 1934, when Congress created UNICOR, it restricted its sales to
one, and only one customer-the federal government. The reason? To
prevent UNICOR's cheap prison labor form undercutting private industry
in the commercial market place. But Congress also armed UNICOR with one
big advantage: it gets first crack at the government's business, even at
the expens of private companies competing for the same work. This is a
special treatment that many labor unions and private businessmen call
"Super Preference"- businessmen like Sam Brickle, the owner of a third -
generation family-run textile mill, in Moon Socket, Rhode Island:
"It's huge!"
"Huge, and nothing's happening."
Nothing's happening because last year Brickle lost five million dollars
in business to UNICOR, thanks to the "Super Preference."
What went on here is that Brickle saw an opportunity to make a cheaper
and better blanket for the Defense Department. He invested a hundred
thousand dollars, drew up the specs and was awarded a contract. But when
it came time to renew the contract, UNICOR decided it wanted the
business. So it copied his blanket design and snatched up the contract.
Because of "Super Preference", UNICOR won the contract even though its
bid amounted to two and a half million dollars more than Brickle's.
"You had to fire 50 people?"
"Yeah, all inner city people. By the way, averaging 8 - 10 dollars an
hour with benefits, I mean that's, that's wonderful!"
"UNICOR's taking jobs of hardworking, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens
and giving them to criminals."- Michael Gale is a director of the
American Apparel Manufactures Association. He says his industry has lost
about 7 thousand jobs to prisoners. In some cases, like combat helmets
and flack jackets for the US military, UNICOR now owns one hundred
percent of the market, and they' reheading toward monopoly in combat
fatigues. In fact, with charts and studies in hand, Schwab argues that
UNICOR, through its purchases of raw materials, creates jobs. And he
says if businessmen, like Sam Brickle, are losing out, it's because they
just can't cut it.
"UNICOR says that first and foremost, this program helps keep these
prisons safe and that that's really the main reason for this. "Idle
hands are the devils workshop." I mean, we've heard that a million
times. They wanna keep these prisoners busy and they say this is a great
program to do that."
"It is . I'm sure it is. I'm sure that they will accomplish everything
that they wanna do with this. But tell me what to do with the 50 people
I laid off? I think it's necessary that these people are trained, and
work. But it's not the answer to give them our jobs. You don't do that .
There*s gotta be another way."

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* Rise and fall of country, everyone's responsibility.  *
*                -----A great person in China history   *
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