PRIDE and the PIECP Program, Prison Labor
If you are an employee, member of management or administration of PRIDE Enterprises visiting this site, all we can say is; shame on you! and we mean that sincerely...
PRIDE of Florida, as this company is frequently called, is the non-profit Corporation chosen by the Florida Legislature in the early '80's to run that state's prison industries. From 1981 through1989 the company was run by drugstore magnate, Jack Eckerd who headed PRIDE's Board of Directors as the CEO. Floyd Glisson was PRIDE President during the same period. Under their tutelage PRIDE earned respect from the FDOC and others watching this pilot program from around the country. PRIDE turned around the failing prison industries to the point they began to finally make a profit, reducing the tax burden to the public. In addition their training program was the best. Inmates were really trained by personnel by utilizing a hands on approach, frequent testing and ever increasing job duties. Successful re-entry stories began to be pointed to around the state as PRIDE's no-nonsense attitude and training turned in success after success.
In 1990 Eckerd and Glissen resigned from the PRIDE Board and Corporation. News articles hinted at Eckerd's dissatisfaction of the direction new PRIDE management staff were taking the corporation, their attention to profits rather than inmate training and updated accounting procedures.
In 1990 Pamela Jo Davis took over PRIDE as the Corporate head. In her first few months in office, she made drastic personnel changes, replacing tenured Vice Presidents and Department heads with personnel familiar to her. In 1997 PRIDE broke ground on their first PIE program located at Polk CI.
Once PRIDE received the PIECP Certificate from the FDOC in 1999, Davis began to demonstrate her power - and true colors - as the head of PRIDE by developing a corporate spin-off scheme to take advantage of the PIECP program. Davis, PRIDE President John Bruels and several of the PRIDE Board Members formed ten (10) corporations to "assist" PRIDE in their operations. These spin-offs were loaned upwards of $19 million dollars by PRIDE with no repayment schedule, collateral or loan documents. As Board and management personnel at the spin-offs, the PRIDE personnel involved drew handsome salaries at the new corporations, funded by PRIDE funds. Non-bid contracts were issued to these spin-offs by PRIDE.
In 2003 we began questioning the relationship PRIDE had with these spin-offs and the legality of those relationships under Florida law. We raised these questions with the Governor's office and the Inspector General's office along with our PIECP violation(s) documents. In 2004 PRIDE refused to open their books to the Auditor General's office forcing the state to seek assistance from the Florida Attorney General to force compliance by PRIDE. After an opinion from the AG's office forced the disclosure of the corporation's financial records, the Corrections Commission discovered the massive loans and non-bid contracts issued by the PRIDE Board to themselves at the other spin-off corporations.
The Florida Inspector General was ordered to investigate PRIDE, their financial and corporate relationships with the spin-offs and to look for corruption. The investigation was completed in 2005 and once issued, the PRIDE Board immediately asked for the resignation of Pam Davis, John Bruells and others. In addition the investigative audit called for PRIDE severing all ties with the spin-off corporations, finding that Florida statute 946.502 Legislative intent with respect to operation of correctional work programs.-- prohibited more than one corporation operating the state's prison industries. Read the full report here: http://www.flgov.com/ig/pdfs/PRIDE_2005.pdf
Eventually several of the Board members resigned or were simply replaced by Governor Bush. PRIDE received approximately $400,000 of the $19 million it had loaned the spin-offs and severed all ties to the spin-offs.
In 2003 we began sending queries about PRIDE's business practices to the Secretary of the FDOC, James Crosby We raised several ongoing practices that we believed violated both the federal and state PIE laws and Guidelines. Secretary Crosby couldn't be bothered and as stated elsewhere at the site, we contacted the Florida Governor and his Inspector General's Office requesting an investigation into PRIDE's questionable business practices, violations of state and federal PIECP laws and use of the spin-off corporations.
No response from Governor Bush and the response from the IG's office was they lacked jurisdiction to investigate any of our allegations (looking back, this now seems odd given the fact that just 1 year later they did in fact investigate PRIDE on all the issues we presented in '03. Coincidence?)
Here is a summary of the PIECP violations we accused PRIDE of and Departments or Agencies contacted with the information.
- Not identifying PIE orders on industry tracking forms.
- Confiscating PIECP Guidelines found in the possession of inmate workers, and termination of those workers.
- Not paying PIE wages to inmates assigned to maintenance, janitorial or Quality Assurance.
- "Adjusting" of inmate PIE hours worked to fit into labor bids on contracts.
- Discontinuation of using PIE time cards to identify hours worked by an inmate on PIE orders or projects. New Corporate policy of inmates performing PIE work, keep track of hours on scraps of paper and turning them in to supervisors who would later make the adjustments to PIE hours worked for each to fit into labor projections of the order.
- Failure to pay inmate workers prevailing wages on PIE projects or orders.**
- Use of minimum wage in place of prevailing wage requirements.
- Using PIECP to partner with private sector companies and not declaring the products manufactured for that partner as PIE products.
- The PRIDE Dental Laboratory at UCI does not pay PIE wages to the inmates who perform the actual work at the prevailing wage - or Florida minimum wage scale. At the Dental Lab PRIDE "adjusts" (there's that word again) the labor on contract work by dividing the labor actually paid to the industry by the number of inmates working in the entire lab. This further dilutes the wages actually paid to the inmates who performed the labor.
- Deliberate classification of PIE qualifying industries or programs as "Service Industries". Service industries are exempt for PIECP purposes from the Guideline requirements (Union Foods was classified as a service industry from 2002 through 2007, though the products made there were in fact "new pattied food products" made from bulk meats and distributed all over the country. BJA says if you make a product that is a "new" product, substantially changed from the material it is made from, the industry cannot be a service industry).
** At the July, 2006 PRIDE Board Meeting, Mary Hinkle provided the Board of Directors with a presentation on the PIECP program, in response to the questions and violations I had presented them with at the previous Board Meeting. In her presentation Ms. Hinkle clearly informed the Board that PRIDE pays PIECP inmates the Florida minimum wage (see: Minutes 7-27-06 BD in the files section for verification).
The foregoing issues were presented to the agencies listed above: DOJ, BJA, NCIA, OJP, Governor Bush, Fl. IG's Office with no real replies from any of them except for that mentioned above.
Questionable Business Practices
Where to start? In additiion to those practices noted above and corroborated by the 2005 Fl. IG's report, there are other procedures and practices utilized by PRIDE to provide them with a competitive edge over their private sector competitors. It is important to note that the partnerships cited below were all initiated by PRIDE. Representatives of PRIDE contacted all of the following private sector manufacturers and solicited their business. These businesses were assured that if they partnered with PRIDE they could save considerable overhead expenses due to low annual leases on facilities and the use of cheap prison labor.
We'll begin with their partnership with Fresh Nectars back in 2001. One of PRIDE's spin-offs, ITC partnered with Fresh Nectars to form Florida Citrus Partners, LLC, In 2003 PRIDE accused Fresh Nectars of forming another citrus business and sending business to this company. PRIDE brought suit against Fresh Nectars while keeping their proprietary information and equipment to continue operations without Fresh Nectars. At the time of the filing of the litigation, ITC (an alter-ego of PRIDE) owed Fresh Nectars $1.5 million in loans. Fresh Nectars stated they believed the suit against them was an attempt by PRIDE to not pay their debt to them.
We'll continue with the partnership between Global Outsourcing, Inc. (another of the spin-off corporations of PRIDE) and Custom Converter Sales, Inc.(CCS) in 2001. Global was to supply CCS with refurbished torque converters using inmate labor. In the litigation filings, CCS revealed several important aspects of PRIDE's attention to avoiding paying PIE wages to inmate workers. Under the complaint allegations CCS informed the Court that PRIDE was to provide the facility and "10. Global which has interlocking officers, directors and employees with PRIDE is utilized in situations which allows PRIDE to avoid paying inmates a minimum wage"
CCS placed their equipment in the PRIDE facility and trained personnel on the refurbishing equipment. PRIDE and Global failed to maintain the agreed upon turn over rate and the quality of the products turned out were inferior to those refurbished by CCS prior to the joint venture.
PRIDE and Global attempted to get CCS to surrender their business once their failure to keep up with orders weakened CCS' position in the market. When that later failed and the venture was in jeopardy, PRIDE and Global shut down the plant, ordered CCS personnel from prison property, kept the equipment and proprietary processing, kept CCS' customer cores and in general attempted to put CCS out of business, as they could not keep up with orders due to the failure of PRIDE and Global to produce the number and quality of products necesary to fill the orders.
PRIDE went on to operate a stand alone torque converter refurbishing operation utilizing CCS' equipment, proprietary processing as a "Customer" PIE program.
In 2002 PRIDE entered into another partnership under the PIE program. They partnered with ATL Industries, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia. ATL was a major producer of processed meat products with customers nationwide. PRIDE solicited the partnership with ATL President, Laurence Stone. Prior to actual start-up of operations, PRIDE provided a letter to their Corporate counsel outlining the processing procedures. In that letter they failed to advise their counsel that in addition to grinding and freezing the bulk meat products, the processing also included the addition of fillers, spices, flavoring and other added ingredients necessary to transform the bulk meats into several types of meat patties. They also failed to advise that the products were to be shipped directly from the Food Processing plant all over the country. However once the attorney responded (see PRIDE Attorney Brewton Letter to PRIDE document in our files section) it was clear that he was mis-informed as to the actual operation, and based his decision upon erroneous information. Once PRIDE got the go ahead from Mr. Brewton, they contacted ATL and the partnership followed. ATL shipped expensive equipment, proprietary recipes, ingredients, customer list and packaging materials to the PRIDE Food Processing facility
The PRIDE VP of Operations, Jack Edgemon was the representative who informed ATL of their general counsel's finding.
Once the operation began in earnest up to 70 inmate workers were assigned to the industry. They all worked for standard non-PIE wages. PRIDE processed the ATL products and shipped them all over the U.S. from their factory in Raiford. In late '04 ATL discovered discrepancies in the record keeping of PRIDE and attempted to gain access to the records to resolve the issues. Once PRIDE was made aware that ATL was suspicious of their accounting, PRIDE ordered all ATL personnel off the prison property, seized ATL's equipment and materials. They offered an employment position to ATL's on-site supervisor (who accepted). Once ATL was removed from the facility PRIDE continued to process the remaining bulk meats that was supplied by ATL, utilizing their recipes and equipment. Finished products were labeled with ATL labels and shipped to ATL customers as if the products still came from ATL.
A lawsuit developed (obviously) and while litigation proceeded, some of ATL's equipment was placed outside the plant and allowed to rust in the weather. Other equipment remained and was used by PRIDE to continue operations and cannibalized for parts when PRIDE purchased replacement equipment. To keep the Food Processing a "PIE Partnership" PRIDE's Food Industry Engineer, Westbrook funded the opening of two (2) for profit corporations, choosing ATL's ex-supervisor, Javetz to head the new corporations - Century Meats and Circle A Brands - while both Westbrook and Javetz continued as PRIDE employees. Century and Circle A took the position of ATL and business continued as before - using ATL equipment, proprietary formulas and materials. In essence, this was nothing more than two more spin-offs owned and operated by full time PRIDE employees (Westbrook was not only the Food Processing Industry Engineer, he was the son-in-law of PRIDE President, Jack Edgemon).
During the litigation ATL was able to get a Court Order to enter onto the PRIDE Processing plant property to inspect equipment. Once on the property they found storage trailers adjacent to the processing plant that contained the packing materials, ingredients, spices and flavorings used in the meat processing operations. All of these materials were contaminated with rat feces and urine. ATL took pictures of the contamination and immediately contacted the USDA and asked them to allow him to order a recall on the products that had been made with the contaminated materials and shipped under his labels (see: pictures of rat feces and urine in our files section). The USDA refused, though much of the processed meats were later shipped to private sector grocers, institutions and schools.
This litigation continues as this is written. All of our requests to PRIDE regarding the PIE wage issues for the inmate workers at the food facility have been denied, citing the ongoing litigation as the reason for their refusal.
PRIDE's web page for the PIE program specifically states that:
"The PIE Certification Program was created by Congress in 1979 to encourage states and units of local government to establish employment opportunities for prisoners that approximate private sector work opportunities. The program is designed to place inmates in a realistic working environment, pay them the local prevailing wage for similar work, and enable them to acquire marketable skills to increase their potential for successful rehabilitation and meaningful employment upon release."
In November 2006 when we advised them that their web page information did not match their actual wage policy, the Board disagreed. Mr. Brian Connett, then the PRIDE PIECP Coordinator, offered a presentation to the Board wherein he stated that PRIDE pays their inmate workers "at least the state minimum hourly wage". We argued that paying minimum wages across the board did not satisfy the PIECP mandatory requirement of "Prevailing wages", pointing out that unless the entire work force of Florida were being paid the state minimum wage for their job descriptions, his assertion was incorrect. After the Board meeting, Mr. Connett was unavailable for questions and soon after the November Board meeting he left PRIDE and now works for the Nevada State DOC Industries...and also serves as the VP of Marketing for the NCIA (see: http://www.nationalcia.org/?page_id=12 and see for yourself. While there check out the other Board members of the NCIA and check their credentials...all hold positions within the various state prison industries!)