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Punishment & Profit: Programs & Labor

Punishment & Profit

Originally Aired: Tuesday, March 2, 2021


Rehabilitative programs in prisons and jails are constantly at risk of defunding. However, programs that require incarcerated people to work for little or no pay continue to exist across the country thanks to an exception in the Thirteenth Amendment. They farm crops, remove asbestos, fight wildfires, clean medical waste, serve on suicide watch and more. It’s estimated that, if incarcerated workers were fairly compensated, they would be owed more than $14 billion in wages. Join us to learn about failures in rehabilitative programming, how prison labor filters into the products and services we use in our daily lives, and what advocates are doing to finally end this legal form of slavery that has endured in the U.S.

Guest speakers include activists Kamau Allen (Abolish Slavery National Network), Amani Sawari (National Prison Strike) and Jorge Renaud (Latino Justice); and attorney Andrew Free. Worth Rises’ Executive Director Bianca Tylek hosts.


Leadership support for The Greene Space’s Artist-in-Residence program is provided by:


Worth Rises is a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to dismantling the prison industry and ending the exploitation of those it touches. The organization exposes the commercialization of the criminal legal system and advocates and organizes to protect and return the economic resources extracted from affected communities and strip the industry of its power. Through this work, Worth Rises is helping to clear the road toward a safe and just world free of police and prisons. Find out more at worthrises.org.

Credit: Photo provided by guest

Bianca is the Founder and Executive Director of Worth Rises, combining her direct experience with the criminal legal system and expertise in financial and legal services to challenge the prison industry.

Before founding Worth Rises in 2017, Bianca was a legal fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, where she investigated the perverse financial incentives created by correctional funding. Previously, Bianca also worked with various state and local corrections agencies, including New York City, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. Most notably, in New York City, she drafted the young adult plan that eliminated solitary confinement for young adults 21 years old and younger—a first in the nation.

Bianca has also consulted to the Association of State Correctional Administrators and worked for the Campaign to End Mass Incarceration at the American Civil Liberties Union. Bianca co-founded College Pathways at Rikers Island, a preparation program for incarcerated students interested in pursuing higher education. 

Before committing her career to the struggle for justice, Bianca worked as a financial analyst at Citigroup and Morgan Stanley. 

Bianca has been honored as a Draper Rickard Kaplan Entrepreneur, Art for Justice Fellow, TED Fellow, Equal Justice Works Fellow, Harvard University Presidential Public Service Fellow, Ford Foundation Public Interest Fellow, Paul & Daisy Soros New American Fellow, and an Education Pioneers Analyst Fellow. Bianca holds a B.A. from Columbia University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Credit: Photo provided by guest

Kamau Allen is a Howard University graduate and a full time community organizer with Together Colorado. Through his passion for racial justice and criminal justice transformation, he has worked to help communities achieve police accountability and criminal justice reform. In 2018, his involvement with Together Colorado allowed him to help manage the steering committee for the grassroots campaign that abolished slavery from Colorado’s constitution. Kamau is currently the acting director of the Abolish Slavery National Network (ASNN). ASNN aspires to abolish slavery from every state constitution and the constitution of the United States.

Credit: Photo provided by guest

Amani Sawari is a writer, founder of SawariMedia LLC, spokesperson for Jailhouse Lawyer Speak’s 2018 National Prison Strike and a 2019 Civil Rights Fellow with the Roddenberry Foundation. She graduated from the University of Washington with her Bachelor degree in both Media Communication Studies and Law, Economics & Public Policy. Her visionary publications, including the National Right2Vote Report, aid in distributing legislative updates and building community among participants in the prison resistance movement on both sides of the wall across 30 states.

Credit: Photo provided by guest

Born in New Mexico and raised in Texas, Jorge is the son of a Louisiana farmer and a woman who waded the Rio Bravo at 15. Jorge has been a National Organizer with the Center for Community Change, a Senior Policy Analyst at the Prison Policy Initiative, and is currently the SW Region Director for Policy and Advocacy at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. He was the 2020 Poet in Residence at the Civil Rights Corps and is the incoming Writer in Residence for the Texas After Violence Project. Jorge spent 27 years in Texas cages for robbery.

Andrew is an abolitionist immigration and civil rights lawyer focused on corporate and government accountability and transparency. He founded and leads the #DetentionKills Network, a mutual aid network organizing, supporting, and centering immigrants and refugees who lose loved ones and community members inside DHS cages. He serves as class counsel or putative class counsel for more than a hundred thousand current and formerly detained noncitizens who allege private prison operators engaged in unlawful labor practices and forced labor in civil immigration detention centers. He is also a prolific Freedom of Information Act requestor, litigator, and evangelist.

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