The article proposes the institutional analysis of convict labor as an alternative to both (profit-oriented) economic and (discipline-oriented) political explanations. The specialized labor-based prisons in Turkey from 1936 to 1953 are brought to light by archival research and are presented here as a rich case to discuss the experiential/subjective conditions of unfree labor regimes and the structural effects of institutions on the convicts’ experiences. I argue that the state department responsible for prison labor in Turkey was transformed into a capitalist corporation with bureaucratic management, and the target of convict labor system was neither profit nor discipline, but the creation of the corporate bureaucracy itself. As a consequence, both for prisoners and for the prison staff, labor-based prisons appeared as privileged places. Hence, unfree labor was volunteered.