Ashurst-Sumners Act 1935
Kristi M. McKinnon
The Ashurst-Sumners Act of 1935 barred the sale of prison goods in interstate commerce, preventing states from selling goods produced from inmate labor to customers in other states. It sought to stop inmate-manufactured goods from flooding the market and undermining free labor. It also required that any products prisoners made would be marked accordingly for outside places that permitted their importation. Though the laws regulating inmate labor have changed since the act was implemented, many of the issues it raised remain relevant today. From 1929, a series of federal laws was introduced that restricted prison labor. Before that time, states were entitled to regulate their own inmate work-force. For example, many states in the early 19th century contracted inmates to local farmers and industries in exchange for money and goods under a system known as convict leasing. These women and men worked for no pay. Though initially such programs were ...