America’s business of prisons thrives even amid a pandemic


FILE – In this March 16, 2011, file photo, a security fence surrounds inmate housing on the Rikers Island correctional facility in New York. As of Wednesday, May 6, 2020, more than 20,000 inmates have been infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus and 295 have died nationwide, at Rikers Island and at state and federal lockups in cities and towns coast to coast, according to an unofficial tally kept by the COVID-19 Behind Bars Data Project run by UCLA Law. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — As the coronavirus pandemic decimates many companies, big business that has become synonymous with the world’s largest prison system continues to make money.

Men and women behind bars in at least 40 states continue to work, sometimes earning next to nothing to make masks and hand sanitizer to help guard others from the pandemic.

They have been cut off from family visits for weeks but get charged as much as $25 for a 15-minute phone call.

They also pay marked-up prices at the commissary for soap so they can wash their hands more frequently.

That service can carry a 100% processing fee.

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