The average prison wage is 52 cents an hour. Many prison jobs pay nothing at all. Most prisons supply the barest of essentials. Things like deodorant and warm clothes must be purchased at the prison commissary. The Marshall Project interviewed eight men and women in prison to learn how they make and spend money.
You're expected to work 10 hours a day, seven days a week, all for a whopping 20 cents an hour. On top of this, there's an hourly quota of license plate tags that you're expected to reach. If you can do this adequately enough on a consistent basis, then you'll be eligible for a raise every six months. The raise is (drumroll, please) … a nickel. You can get a nickel raise every six months up until you reach the maximum threshold of 55 cents per hour. Breaking it down, you have to work for them for a minimum of three and a half years before you can reach this Class A pay-grade. I'd like to point out that a single ramen noodle soup costs 65 cents on the canteen, and the price is steadily rising. You can work all day and barely have enough to put together a decent meal.