A prison farm is a large correctional facility where penal labor convicts are put to economical use in a farm (in the wide sense of a productive unit), usually for manual labor, largely in open air, such as in agriculture, logging, quarrying, and mining. The concepts of prison farm and labor camp overlap. The historical equivalent on a very large scale was called a penal colony.
The agricultural goods produced by prison farms are generally used primarily to feed the prisoners themselves and other wards of the state (residents of orphanages, asylums, etc.), and secondarily, to be sold for whatever profit the state may be able to obtain.
In addition to being forced to labor directly for the government on a prison farm or in a penal colony, inmates may be forced to do farm work for private enterprises by being farmed out through the practice of convict leasing to work on private agricultural lands or related industries (fishing, lumbering, etc.). The party purchasing their labor from the government generally does so at a steep discount from the cost of free labor.
Depending on the prevailing doctrine on judicial punishment and penal harm, psychological and/or physical cruelty may be a conscious intent of prison farm labor, and not just an inevitable but unintended collateral effect.
Louisiana State Penitentiary is the largest prison farm covering 18000 acres, and is surrounded by three sides of the Mississippi River 
Convicts may also be leased for non-agricultural work, either directly to state entities, or to private industry. For example, prisoners may make license plates under contract to the state Department of Motor Vehicles, work in textile or other state run factories, or may perform data processing for outside firms. These laborers are typically considered to be a part of prison industries and not prison farms.
|State||Facility||Type of work|
|Alabama||Draper Correctional Facility||Farming |
|Alabama||G.K. Fountain Correctional Facility||Cattle and Agricultural Operations, and Vegetable Gardens |
|Alabama||Limestone Correctional Facility||Cattle and Farming |
|Alaska||Point MacKenzie Correctional Farm||Hogs, Cattle, Turkeys, and Chickens, Produce Operations, and Hydroponics Program |
|Arkansas||Cummins Unit||Horse and Agricultural Operations |
|Arkansas||East Arkansas Regional Unit||Farming |
|Arkansas||Grimes Unit||Agricultural Gardening Program |
|Arkansas||North Central Unit||Garden and Forage Production |
|Arkansas||Ouachita River Unit||Livestock and Forage Production, Gravel Harvesting |
|Arkansas||Pine Bluff Unit||Horse operation |
|Arkansas||Tucker Unit||Agricultural Operations |
|Arkansas||Wrightsville Unit||Horse Operations, Agricultural Operations |
|California||California State Prison, Corcoran||Dairy/Milk Processing |
|California||Central California Women's Facility||Farming |
|California||Valley State Prison||Farming |
|California||Wasco State Prison||Farming |
|Colorado||Buena Vista Correctional Complex||Fish Hatchery |
|Colorado||Four Mile Correctional Center||Dairy, Wild Horse Inmate Program |
|Colorado||Rifle Correctional Center||Timber |
|Colorado||Skyline Correctional Center||Fish Hatchery, Farming, Vineyard, Goat and Water Buffalo Dairy, Mountain Sheep |
|Florida||Apalachee Correctional Institution, West Unit / P.R.I.D.E.||Beef Cattle, Lumber, Agricultural |
|Florida||Charlotte Correctional Institution / P.R.I.D.E.||Citrus |
|Florida||Union Correctional Institution / P.R.I.D.E.||Beef Cattle, Lumber |
|Georgia||Arrendale State Prison||Cattle and Swine, Hay Farming |
|Georgia||Dooly State Prison||Farm Services |
|Georgia||Montgomery State Prison||Poultry and Egg Production |
|Georgia||Rogers State Prison||Dairy, Beef Cattle, Swine, Farming |
|Georgia||Washington State Prison||Farming |
|Hawaii||Halawa Correctional Facility / Hawaii Correctional Industries||Farming |
|Hawaii||Waiawa Correctional Facility||Farming |
|Louisiana||Louisiana State Penitentiary||Farming|
Britain had a long history of penal servitude even prior to the passage of the Penal Servitude Act of 1853, and routinely used convict labor to settle its conquests, either through penal colonies or by selling convicts to settlers to serve as slaves for a term of years as indentured servants.
This type of penal institution has mainly been implanted in rural regions of vast countries. For example, the following passage describes the prison system of the U.S. state of Virginia in the early twentieth century:
"The state prison is at Raleigh, although most of the convicts are distributed upon farms owned and operated by the state. The lease system does not prevail, but the farming out of convict labor is permitted by the constitution; such labor is used chiefly for the building of railways, the convicts so employed being at all times cared for and guarded by state officials. A reformatory for white youth between the ages of seven and sixteen, under the name of the Stonewall Jackson Manual Training and Industrial School, was opened at Concord in 1909, and in March 1909 the Foulk Reformatory and Manual Training School for negro youth was provided for. Charitable and penal institutions are under the supervision of a Board of Public Charities, appointed by the governor for a period of six years, the terms of the different members expiring in different years. Private institutions for the care of the insane, idiots, feeble-minded and inebriates may be established, but must be licensed and regulated by the state board and become legally a part of the system of public charities."
In 21st-century Illinois, several prisons continue to run farms to produce food for wards of the state, including the prisoners themselves. The 1911 Britannica also reported that the state of Rhode Island had a farm of 667 acres (2.70 km2) in the southern part of Cranston City housing (and presumably taking labor from):
"the state prison, the Providence county jail, the state workhouse and the house of correction, the state almshouse, the state hospital for the insane, the Sockanosset school for boys, and the Oaklawn school for girls, the last two being departments of the state reform school."
There are prison farms in other countries. Canada had six prison farms, where up to 800 inmates did everything from tending pigs to milking cows until they were closed in 2010 by the Conservative government. The Current Liberal government is conducting feasibility studies to determine if the program can be restarted.
Films featuring prison farms and forced prison labor:
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