In response to your Monday article on the prisoner suing to be paid minimum wage: I ran some quick numbers and the results dispute the inmate’s claim of working for slave wages.
While being incarcerated, David Anthony Gonzalez costs the taxpayer. I’ll use a national average of $31,000 a year, based on numbers from the Vera Institute of Justice. Making the assumption that Gonzalez works 2,080 hours annually, that equates to an additional $14.90 an hour for food, housing and security. So he is already making almost twice the current minimum wage.
Using another model, the current average rent for a one bedroom in Las Vegas is $843 a month. The average monthly cost for food is between $165 and $345, so I’ll use the median of $255. Utilities average about $101 a month and a gym membership is about $25. So again, at a 2,080 hours a year — 173 hours a month – it works out to $7 an hour. Adding in the additional $3 an hour he makes when he’s working and it works out to $10 an hour. This is 25 percent more than the current minimum wage.
My opinion is that Gonzalez and others who perform similar work are doing very well, as he is able – should he desire – to bank 33 percent into an IRA. Therefore he does not need an increase.