Joe Mohwish, a federal prisoner at FCI Jesup in Georgia, has filed suit against UNICOR claiming that they are competing against private industry by selling prisoner made clothing to private companies. UNICOR is prohibited by statute from competing against private industry and cannot sell its products to nongovernment agencies. UNICOR is owned by the US government and operated by the Deprtment of Justice and Bureau of Prisons.
The clothes in question were sold to Sport Europa, a Miami based clothes retailer. Prisoners are paid between 23 cents and $1.15 an hour for their labor. UNICOR makes everything from furniture to military components, See May, 1994, PLN.
Mohwish and Duane Olson, another Jesup prisoner, have filed suit in US District Court in Georgia alleging that the practice violates the RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) act, its own 1934 charter and other laws. The suit also alleges that UNICOR is the largest employer of illegal aliens in the US, employing over 4,500 in violation of federal laws which prohibit the knowing employment of undocumented aliens. The inspector general of the Department of Justice has also begun a preliminary investigation into the allegations of falsified records and improper sales.
The suit has received widespread attention in the local Georgia media. PLN will report on developments as they occur. Readers interested in further information should send $10.00 to cover postage and copying costs to: Media Project, P.O. Box 920474, Norcross, GA. 30092. (404) 449-5419. They can provide copies of the complaint, exhibits, preliminary motions and rulings and news clippings from the local media.
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