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.
Authority / Legal Basis
- Title 23 U.S.C. 114(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
- Title 23 C.F.R. 635.117(a) provides the FHWA's regulatory policy for convict labor.
- Title 23 C.F.R. 635.417 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."
OtherFHWA 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:
State Material Quantity Cost 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 Total $16,536 District Of Columbia Sign Material Not stated $325,000 Iowa Signs 21,408 sq.ft. $152,384 Michigan Signs 335 ea $9,752 Missouri Signs 42,829 ea $506,573 North Carolina Signs 8,938 ea $850,652 Pavement Markings 25,900 gal. $116,298 Total $966,950 North Dakota Signs - High Intensity 62,784 sq.ft. $373,370 Signs - Engineering Grade 26,664 sq.ft. $83,256 Totals 89,448 sq.ft. $456,625 Rhode Island Signing Material 4,851 ea $195,521 Utah Signs 12,000 sq.ft. $66,000 Vermont Posts 32,202 ea Not Stated Offset Blocks 11,149 ea Ties 7,911 ea Lumber 76,604 bd.ft. Signs 43,572 sq.ft. Virginia Sign Blanks 45,977 sq.ft. $92,413 Washington Signs 46,000 sq.ft. $184,000
- 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.