Construction Program Guide
Convict Produced Material / Convict Labor
FHWA policy prohibits the use of convict labor and material for projects located on Federal-aid highways.
- 23 USC 114 Construction (2020) Subsection (b) Convict Labor and Convict Produced Materials provides the statutory basis for the convict produced material and convict labor prohibitions. The prohibition is limited by statute to projects on a "Federal-aid system". However, since the 1991 ISTEA modified the definition of a "Federal-aid system" without changing the language in Section 114, the applicability of the prohibition has been interpreted by FHWA to mean projects located on Federal-aid highways. See Mr. Schimmoller's May 9, 1996 memorandum.
- 23 CFR 635.117 Labor and Employment (a) (2021) No construction work shall be performed by convict labor at the work site or within the limits of any Federal-aid highway construction project from the time of award of the contract or the start of work on force account until final acceptance of the work by the STD unless it is labor performed by convicts who are on parole, supervised release, or probation.
- 23 CFR 635.417 Convict produced materials (2021) provides the FHWA's regulatory policy for convict produced materials. Such materials are prohibited from use on the Federal-aid highway system, except that "Materials produced after July 1, 1991, by convict labor may only be incorporated in a Federal-aid highway construction project if such materials have been:
- Produced by convicts who are on parole, supervised release, or probation from a prison or
- Produced in a qualified prison facility and the cumulative annual production amount of such materials for use in Federal-aid highway construction does not exceed the amount of such materials produced in such facility for use in Federal-aid highway construction during the 12-month period ending July 1, 1987."
- Applicability of Convict Labor Prohibition to Transportation Enhancement Projects (05/09/1996)
- Installation of RPMs Recycled by Prison Labor (03/25/1994)
- Convict Labor and Convict Produced Materials (02/05/1988)
- Procurement of Signing Materials (05/08/1985)
- Convict Labor (03/23/1950)
FHWA HQ polled the Division Offices to determine the types, quantities, and costs of convict-produced materials produced in each State for the 12-month period ending July 1, 1987. The allowable material types and quantities the results of the survey are in the table below. States not listed did not incorporate convict produced materials into its Federal-aid highway construction products during that period. By statute, each state listed is limited to the convict-produced materials and quantities shown:
|California||Aluminum Tear Drop Assemblies||3,500 ea||$2,800|
|Aluminum Guide Plates||5,000 ea||$5,750|
|Type K Markers||2,200 ea||$7,786|
|District Of Columbia||Sign Material||Not stated||$325,000|
|North Carolina||Signs||8,938 ea||$850,652|
|Pavement Markings||25,900 gal.||$116,298|
|North Dakota||Signs - High Intensity||62,784 sq.ft.||$373,370|
|Signs - Engineering Grade||26,664 sq.ft.||$83,256|
|Rhode Island||Signing Material||4,851 ea||$195,521|
|Vermont||Posts||32,202 ea||Not Stated|
|Offset Blocks||11,149 ea|
|Virginia||Sign Blanks||45,977 sq.ft.||$92,413|
- Section III.B.8.k.i. of the FHWA Contract Administration Core Curriculum Manual (.pdf, 25 mb) summarizes the FHWA's policies and provides general guidance for the convict labor prohibition.
- Section III.B.8.l.ii. of the FHWA Contract Administration Core Curriculum Manual (.pdf, 25 mb) summarizes the FHWA's policies and provides general guidance for the convict produced materials prohibition.