Prison Labor: A Success Story | Documentary Idea

by James Thomsen
(Mammoth Lakes, California)

Made from recycled PVC advertising banners.

Made from recycled PVC advertising banners.

Recently there have been many films, articles and discussions about the use of prison labor in the USA (re: Whole Foods, etc.) and the criticism seems justified.

But I recently purchased a shoulder bag made in a prison in Italy.

The organization uses inmate labor for production, but still follows the Italian labor laws, including sick leave, etc. And they have factories outside the prison where released inmates can also work as they move back into society.

While it is easy to say that all prison labor should be stopped, I think setting up programs that are good for the inmates, while much harder, is the right thing to do.

I have been invited to tour their facilities and interview inmates.

With so many anti-prison labor films I think something that promotes a program that is actually good for inmates is needed.

Maybe we can bring these successful programs to the USA.

Comments for Prison Labor: A Success Story | Documentary Idea

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Feb 15, 2019
by: Nelson Ikeh


I will like to make this story if you have any interesting character who is willing to talk about his or her ups and down and the transformation through this programme.

Please email me

Mar 18, 2018
Prison Labor
by: Jim

I think this is a great story. I have not followed up since I returned to the USA, but still think it could be very interesting.

I do have all the contacts.


Mar 11, 2018
by: Kam

Very interesting story. How we can get in contact to discuss it in more detail?

Oct 12, 2016
by: Anonymous

I love any kind of prison program that aims at rehabilitation and giving them something productive to do. My mind is blown that so many people are against these work opportunities. What could be better then giving them new skills that could help them find work when they're released?

Jul 26, 2016
by: James Thomsen

I have the invitation from one of the program's directors to spend time in their facilities with the goal of telling their story. He said, "for a better understanding would be nice to bring the testimony of our workers who talk about their experience working with us."

This follows my efforts to help them sell their products in the USA (that's my background, I was President of JanSport, EastPak and Kipling and offered my help, for free, to look at the USA market opportunities.)

In discussions I told him that the USA consumer has a very negative view on "prison labor" and I thought a short documentary would help explain their program, maybe help sell products and, ideally, influence some Americans.

So, while I do not have written permission to film inmates, etc.from prison authorities I believe I can get that.

Jul 25, 2016
interviews with inmates
by: Desktop Documentaries

The thing that strikes me about this documentary idea is your ACCESS to the story. This is an incredible opportunity to go inside the prison and document some incredible stories. So has the prison given you permission to do filming or just take (written) notes?

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