The Feb. 9 Outlook essay “Five Myths: Slavery” noted that “though convict leasing was legally abolished in 1928, at least 37 states still permit contracting prison labor out to private companies.”

I was appointed to serve on the Maryland Correctional Enterprises Customer Council by then-Gov. Martin O’Malley (D). I retired on Jan. 1. This experience qualifies me to speak to the role of the Maryland Correctional Enterprises in Maryland. MCE’s 2019 annual report notes that its work “provides inmates with much-needed work skills and work ethics,” reduces recidivism rates and lowers the cost of incarceration.

MCE’s Continuing Allocation of Reentry Services (CARES) assists inmate employees in transitioning to civilian employment upon release. I have attended CARES graduation ceremonies, and they are filled with as much joy as any graduation. The knowledge, skills and abilities that inmates acquire prepare them for civilian jobs. MCE jobs are highly sought after in prisons. I have toured most of the MCE shops and have spoken to inmate workers. They apply for MCE jobs for the same reasons that you or I do: to support ourselves and our families, to be productive members of society, to have meaningful days, to give back to the community.

Yes, prison workers make little money. MCE is an enterprise and by law is self-sustaining. MCE contributes millions of dollars annually to the state. It operates on a very thin line. The benefits that MCE provides to individual prisoners, to the state and to various charities are numerous. Maryland is striving to reduce recidivism and make the state a better place for all.

Sandra Filippi, Takoma Park