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A controversial federal prison work program may be costing jobs at American Power Source in Columbus.

The federal program will use federal inmates to make military uniforms, meaning the Columbus company has to lay off 50 of its 141 workers.

Workers at American Power Source garment plant say jobs are being stolen by prison inmates.

Fifty employees have received an alarming letter, inmates in federal prisons will be sewing the items they have been accustomed to sewing.

Operations Manager Cathy Griffith thinks an injustice is being done for at least two reasons.

“The inmates are being rehabilitated on something they’ll never use. So your tax dollars are going for naught. Number two, they are taking the work from the ladies here who work hard to provide for their families. Have a lot of single moms here,” said Griffith.

Studies have mixed reviews on the value of the federal program.

Some say it provides skills training for inmates who’d be costing taxpayers money anyway.

Others say it’s skills they’ll never use while taxpayers end up paying more for the product.

“So they are taking the jobs from these people so now you are going to turn around and pay for unemployment, you going to pay for low income housing, you going to have to pay for medicaid. Because we are taking those dollars and making these people go home,” said Griffith.

“And you know we come to work to work, not because we want to, its because we need to,” said Lakeshia Taylor.

Not only is Taylor being effected by the recent letter informing her of a possible job loss, her sister is as well.

“My sister is a single parent also. And she is living in the home with me and she lost her home to a fire. And if she looses her job then that means she won’t be able to get out and try to provide another home for her and her kids,” said Taylor.

“Inmates need to be rehabilitated, but not at the expense of our mom’s jobs,” added Griffith.

Officials at the Columbus plant are asking everyone to write their congressmen and the legislature.

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