It turns out that one of Governor Andrew Cuomo‘s quirkier initiatives — the NYClean branded hand sanitizer that is being produced by individuals incarcerated in State prisons — could be one of his most impactful.
Sources tell The Chronicle that Walmart and Costco plan to carry the hand sanitizer in various sizes and under a new yet-to-be-announced brand across its stores nationally.
The arrangement could generate millions for the State prison system over time — monies that Cuomo wants to use for a bold new approach in criminal justice: redemption.
Under Cuomo’s plan, inmates would be able to earn wages for producing commercially marketable products — ranging from hand sanitizer to laundry detergent — at production facilities built ‘on the campuses’ of state prisons.
Inmates would be allowed to use those wages to pay child support, to fulfill court-ordered restitution, to pay fines — and even to pay regular recurring household bills for family members at home.
“This approach is radically different from anything we’ve seen, and finally departs from the discourse around ‘giving inmates free college’,” explains one political operative familiar with Cuomo’s thinking. “We are giving folks jobs and an opportunity to earn money so that they can lawfully provide for their families while paying their debt to society.”
The governor’s policy advisors are divided on whether the new ‘executive policy document’ should allow inmates to accumulate savings or to establish investment accounts, in the event that their wages exceed obligations like child support, restitution, and court fines.
Tentatively, the plan would allow inmates to choose how many hours they work each week, ranging between 20 and 80. It’s expected that they will earn the State’s lowest minimum wage of $12.50 per hour, which would allow for weekly earnings that range between $250 and $1,000 each week.