The Marshall Project

When Your Prison Becomes Your Paycheck

Some states are welcoming back ex-offenders to work behind bars.

In 2010, Cindy Stubbs was nearing the end of a 14-year sentence in a South Carolina prison, determined never to return. A mother of four, locked up on gun and drug trafficking charges since she was 34, Stubbs worked inside the prison translating textbooks to Braille. Three months before her release, she caught a break: a telephone interview at another Braille plant, in North Carolina, led to a job offer.

But there was a catch. This plant was in a prison. She’d be managing prisoners, returning every weekday to exactly the sort of place she’d spent years waiting

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