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Factories Behind Fences: Do Prison 'Real Work' Programs Work?

NCJ Number
National Institute of Justice Journal Issue: 257 Dated: June 2007 Pages: 32-35
Date Published
June 2007
8 pages
Publication Series
This article presents evaluation results from an assessment of whether the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP) "real work" program for offenders increases post-prison employment and reduces recidivism in comparison to other prison-based programming.
The assessment found that the PIECP program was successful at increasing post-release employment opportunities and reducing recidivism among released inmates. Results indicated that upon release, participants in the PIECP obtained employment more quickly and held the jobs longer than the two comparison groups who participated in the Trade Industries (TI) program and in other-than-work activities (OTW). Specifically, approximately 55 percent of PIECP participants found work within the first quarter after release while only 40 percent of TI and OTW comparison subjects found employment within that time period. Almost 49 percent of PIECP participants were employed continuously for over 1 year compared to 40.4 percent of the TI subjects and 38.5 percent of OTW subjects. The PIECP participants also enjoyed higher wages than comparison subjects. In terms of recidivism, the PIECP participants had lower rates of rearrest, conviction, and incarceration in comparison to the TI and OTW subjects. The authors argue that PIECP is an under-utilized rehabilitation program that should be implemented more widely across the country. The evaluation compared employment and recidivism among three groups: (1) inmates who participated in the PIECP, which allows inmates to work for private employers in a "free world" occupation and earn the prevailing wage; (2) inmates who participated in the IT program, in which inmates work within the correctional facility and are supervised by correctional staff; and (3) inmates involved in OTW activities, including idle time. Table, figure, notes

Date Published: June 1, 2007