This Valentine’s Lingerie Is Brought to You By the Prison Industrial Complex

By Beth Schwartzapfel, The Nation
Posted on February 13, 2009, Printed on February 14, 2009

With Valentine’s Day approaching, perhaps you’re planning a trip to Victoria’s Secret. If you’re a conscientious shopper, chances are you want to know about the origins of the clothes you buy: whether they’re sweatshop free or fairly traded or made in the USA. One label you won’t find attached to your lingerie, however, is “Made in the USA: By Prisoners.”

In addition to the South Carolina inmates who were hired by a subcontractor in the 1990s to stitch Victoria’s Secret lingerie, prisoners in the past two decades have packaged or assembled everything from Starbucks coffee beans to Shelby Cobra sports cars, Nintendo Game Boys, Microsoft mouses and Eddie Bauer clothing. Inmates manning phone banks have taken airline reservations and even made calls on behalf of political candidates.

Still, it’s notoriously difficult to find out what, exactly, prisoners are making and for whom. Most of the time, inmates are hired by subcontractors who have been hired by larger corporations, Continue reading