An insidious form of slavery still exists in New York State.

The 13th Amendment ended chattel slavery, but with an insidious exception: “as a punishment for a crime.” This loophole has allowed New York to build a prison system so dependent on human exploitation and degradation that it is akin to modern day slavery

13th Forward

13th Forward is a legislative coalition of advocates, grassroots organizations, and impacted people working to end exploitation and brutality within our prison labor system.

Formerly LaborIsLabor, 13th Forward was formed in 2019 by Worth Rises and the Legal Aid Society. Our steering committee is currently led by Citizen Action of New York, Color Of Change, The Legal Aid Society, and the New York Civil Liberties Union and A Little Piece of Light. We are part of the 2023 Justice Roadmap for New York.

For the past two years, we have been working with State Senator Zellnor Myrie and Assemblymember Harvey Epstein and impacted people to create the equitable prison labor system that incarcerated workers deserve that incarcerated workers deserve. This includes enshrining in our state constitution the abolition of slavery including for those convicted of crimes, and creating a system of labor for incarcerated individuals that prohibits forced labor, raises wages without unfair garnishments, protects worker safety and health, and creates job training programs that provide real pathways to employment post release. Our campaign supports the passage of two bills: The No Slavery in NY Act and The Fairness and Opportunity for Incarcerated Workers Act.

Call your legislators today to demand their support.


Through years-long investigative research and persistent records requests of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), 13th Forward has unearthed first of its kind data that illuminates exactly how New York State relies and profiteers on the forced and grossly underpaid labor of incarcerated individuals.


New York’s prison factories are big business


Between 2010 - 2021, New York’s prison manufacturing enterprise Corcraft sold over $545 million worth of goods and services


NYS made millions while incarcerated workers cleaned up hazardous materials


Since 2017, DOCCS has made over $7.5 million dollars by placing incarcerated workers in hazardous abatement jobs, including asbestos, lead-based paint, and mold removal.


Incarcerated workers are grossly underpaid for their labor


Wages for incarcerated workers range from just 10 cents to 65 cents per hour, before garnishments from fines and fees, and the vast majority of incarcerated workers earn less than 33 cents per hour.

One out of three

families supporting an incarcerated loved one go into debt

One out of three

The current system of profiteering drives communities of color across our state into debt. Because incarcerated people earn just pennies an hour for their labor, yet must pay for food, clothing, toiletries, staying in touch with their families and communicating with their attorneys, families often need to support their loved ones

$4 million

The products of forced labor exist in our classrooms and public colleges

$4 million

Since 2017, the New York City Department of Education and SUNY have purchased nearly $4 million in goods from prison factories, including classroom furniture.

1,400 Coffins

Incarcerated workers built 1,400 coffins per week during the first Covid outbreak

1,400 Coffins

As Covid-19 ravaged New York in Spring 2020 and the state went on lockdown, incarcerated people were forced to continue working in prison factories, risking their lives without protective equipment while bottling hand sanitizer and building coffins. Data we obtained via FOIL indicates that five prison factory facilities even increased the number of incarcerated workers working during this time




Is your organization interested in putting an end to forced labor and ensuring that the most vulnerable New Yorkers receive basic labor protections and the dignity that all human beings deserve? Our coalition members share resources, exchange knowledge, and provide mutual support as we work towards these goals.