New York rolls out state-made hand sanitizer produced by prison inmates

Governor is trying to fight price gouging amid high demand

Government officials in New York have come up with a statewide solution to address hand sanitizer price gougers that have arisen amid coronavirus panic, and it involves a newly branded state sanitizer that's made by prisoners.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, introduced the NYS Clean sanitizer during a press conference Monday morning. Around 100,000 gallons of the "very nice floral bouquet" scented germ killers are said to be distributed to government-operated agencies such as schools, the MTA, not-for-profits and more, according to Cuomo.

"We are problem solvers," the governor said before curtains revealed the NYS Clean line. "And there is price gouging on hand sanitizer and a high demand for hand sanitizer. What do you do? Make your own hand sanitizer? Can you do that?"

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But, apparently, prisoners employed by Corcraft Products, the "brand name" for the Division of Correctional Industries, are capable of making enough hand sanitizer to meet demand. The organization already has inmates making janitorial-grade sanitizers for food service, laundry, floors and restrooms.

Cuomo, right, introduces "New York State Clean," a hand sanitizer manufactured by the state of New York in response to shortages of the alcohol-based substance, Monday, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Marina Villeneuve)

FOX Business reached out to Corcraft Products for comment on current inmate wages but did not immediately hear back at the time of publication. A New York State Assembly memorandum in support of legislation for The Prison Minimum Wage Act cited a 2014 DOCCS report that said Corcraft employed approximately 2,100 prisoners in 14 facilities and paid inmates as little as 16 cents an hour.

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The average pay rate was 65 cents an hour at the time, according to the report.

The Prison Minimum Wage Act was submitted to the committee on Feb. 4 and aims to raise wages for inmates to $3 an hour.

While legislation for fair inmate pay is taking its time, the coronavirus infection count has reached 600 in the United States, according to the official Johns Hopkins live tracker for the virus, 140 of which are based in New York.

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To help the areas that have been hit hardest in the state, Cuomo said NYS Clean is being distributed there first, including the city of New Rochelle in Westchester County. He also added that NYS Clean is a "superior product" due to its 75 percent alcohol content.