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Fingers in the PIE

I thought you might be interested in the Prison Industry Enhancement (PIE) program that was implemented at select Virginia prisons in 1997. The program allows the VDOC to contract outside of Virginia for prisoners to perform labor at minimum wage. I worked in the program until I found out how the money was being allocated. I enclose a copy of my pay stub that shows this allocation [received by PLN but not reproduced here].

Prisoners in this PIE program receive 25 percent of their gross pay; the DOC gets 25 percent; the Criminal Impact Compensation Fund gets 10 percent; and the withholding tax is about 8 percent.

It is interesting to note they take only 10 percent for the victims compensation fund (the federal guidelines say they can take out up to 20 percent for this type of fund). I doubt the 10 percent will even pay the salaries of those bureaucrats who decide who is eligible to receive compensation. The money does not go to the victim of the prisoner working in the PIE program. Instead it goes into a fund, and the bureaucrats sift through mounds of applications to decide who gets how much.

In addition, if the prisoner has been court-ordered to pay alimony or child support, then 20 percent is taken out for that purpose as well. If the prisoner has no court-ordered family support, the DOC automatically gets that money as additional "room and board".

So, interestingly enough, the DOC manages to choose prisoners for the PIE program who do not have court-ordered family support, knowing that by doing so they will receive a bigger slice of the "PIE". So it is easy to see how they decided on the name for this program. Anyway, as you will see from the enclosed documents, I made a total of $199.83 for 42.07 hours. I received a net pay of $49.06 and the DOC got a whopping $114.62, or 57 percent of my gross pay. I could not, in good conscience, continue in a program which I felt was designed to facilitate me paying to keep myself in prison.

-- D. H., Virginia

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