Wisconsin’s Newest Senator on Why His Companies Employ Prisoners
Funny that the Tea Party movement, in the name of restraining government power and/or protesting TARP, unseated the rare senator who occasionally voted to restrain government power and, you know, opposed TARP. OK, you say, but this isn’t a political blog, and anyway the election was actually more about the health care bill. OK, I say, fine. In any event, here’s the prison connection: it turns out that Wisconsin’s newest senator will head to Washington with some firsthand knowledge of prison labor:
Public records show that Pacur Inc. and Dynamic Drinkware LLC, two companies run by [Ron] Johnson, employ up to nine inmates at a time through a state Corrections Department jobs program.
Johnson’s companies offer private health insurance to the regular employees at the Oshkosh factories. But Melissa Roberts, an executive assistant with the Corrections Department, said the companies don’t have to cover the inmate workers. “The benefit is that they don’t have to pay health benefits,” she said.
The Johnson campaign said the candidate was not available to comment Friday because he was preparing for his debate later that evening with Feingold. But campaign spokeswoman Sara Sendek said his companies hire inmates as a public service.
Saving money “was not a factor by any means,” she said. “The factor was, this is a way to help put these people on the path back to recovery so they could contribute and work their way back into society.”