Advocates oppose inmate-made hand sanitizer program

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York State is combating the shortage of hand sanitizer by producing its own using inmate labor. But some are calling the move labor exploitation.

As a response to price gouging concerns and hand sanitizers selling out in stores, Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled state-made sanitizer on Monday. Up to 100,000 gallons of it will be produced each week by inmates in Washington County.

But not everyone is on board with it.

“Today, we’re here to respond to the coronavirus outbreak and Governor Cuomo’s announcement yesterday that people in prison will have their labor exploited,” Dave George with Release Aging People In Prison Campaign said.

Advocates of those incarcerated say prisoners could be making less than $1 per hour to make the product.

“I believe that we should get minimum wage if we’re doing eight hours of hard work in the prison industries,” Jose Saldana with Release Aging People In Prison Campaign said.

At a press conference Tuesday, the Governor made clear that the state is not making a profit off of it, and that it’s not for sale.

“It is given to other jurisdictions, state use, prison use, bus use,” he said.

NEWS10 ABC asked the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision if they could provide information on what inmates are being paid to make the sanitizer and their response to the criticism over the pay. We did not immediately receive a response.

“New York State Clean” sanitizer comes in 1.7 ounce, 7 ounce, and gallon sized bottles.

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