Grist reports that under the pretense of enhancing the Oregon economy with good paying jobs, SolarCity used prison labor to fulfill contracts to put solar panels on two universities. The workers were paid under $1.00 an hour and the contracts were funded with government dollars:
For SolarCity, the contract also looked like a win. Under a lucrative state program, the Oregon Department of Energy doled out $11.8 million in tax credits for the $27 million project. (SolarCity would not confirm the amount of the tax breaks despite repeated requests.) Those generous tax incentives — part of the Business Energy Tax Credit program, which ended in 2014 — came with an imperative for “job creation and retention requirements.”
For its part, SolarCity did install panels that were produced by Oregon workers. But those workers were behind bars at Sheridan Federal Prison — and instead of benefiting from a program that was supposed to pump up the regional economy, they were paid less than a dollar an hour for their labor.