Immigration attorneys say pricey commissary goods are part of a broader strategy by private prisons to harness cheap inmate labor that lowers operating costs and boosts profits.

Immigrants and activists say facilities such as those owned by Boca Raton, Fla.-based Geo Group Inc., the nation’s largest for-profit corrections company, deliberately skimp on essentials, even food, to coerce detainees to labor for pennies an hour to supplement meager rations.

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