PIECP was created by Congress in 1979
to encourage states and units of local government to establish
employment opportunities for inmates that approximate
private-sector work opportunities. The program is designed to place
inmates in a realistic work environment, pay them the prevailing local
wage for similar work, and enable them to acquire marketable skills
to increase their potential for successful rehabilitation and meaningful
employment upon release.
A total of 50 jurisdictions may be certified under PIECP. To become
certified, each program must demonstrate to the
Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA),
U.S. Department of Justice, that it meets statutory
and guideline requirements as listed under
Mandatory Criteria for Program Participation.
The National Correctional Industries Association
(NCIA), the professional organization for prison
industry employees, provides technical assistance
for this program. Under a grant from BJA, the NCIA
staff of volunteer correctional industry professionals
assess programs for compliance with
program requirements and provide onsite and
telephone technical assistance to programs that are
not in compliance. NCIA provides additional
technical assistance by:
Responding to specific requests for help from participating jurisdictions.
Providing program information to government
agencies, private-sector companies, journalists,
professional businesses, labor organizations,
and others interested in the program.
Offering periodic training to program
Helping to shape program policy
through development of program
guidelines, quarterly program data
summaries, and other documents in
response to program needs.
PIECP has two
Generate products and services that enable
inmates to make a contribution to society, help
offset the cost of their incarceration, compensate
crime victims, and support their families.
Reduce prison idleness, increase inmate job
skills, and improve the prospects for successful
inmate transition to the community upon release.
PIECP was first authorized
under the Justice System Improvement Act of 1979
(Public Law 96-157, Sec. 827) and later expanded
under the Justice Assistance Act of 1984 (Public Law
98-473, Sec. 819). The Crime Control Act of 1990
(Public Law 101-647) authorizes continuation of the
PIECP allows private industry
to establish joint ventures with state and local
correctional agencies to produce goods using inmate
labor. The program benefits:
The corrections administrator. The program is
a cost-effective way to occupy a portion of the
ever-growing inmate population.
The crime victim. The program provides a means
of partial repayment for harm sustained.
The inmate. The program offers a chance to work,
meet financial obligations, increase job skills, and
increase the likelihood of meaningful employment
upon release from incarceration.
The private sector. The program provides a stable
and readily available workforce. In addition, many
correctional agencies provide manufacturing space
to private-sector companies involved in the
The public. Because of inmate worker contributions
to room and board, family support, victim
compensation, and taxes, the program provides a
way to reduce the escalating cost of crime.
Mandatory Criteria for Program
Corrections departments that apply to participate in PIECP must meet all nine
of the following criteria:
1. Eligibility. Authority to involve the private sector in the production
and sale of inmate-made goods
on the open market.
2. Wages. Authority to pay wages at a rate not less than that paid for work
of a similar nature in the
locality in which the work is performed.
3. Non-inmate worker displacement. Written assurances that
PIECP will not result in the displacement of employed workers; be applied in
or trades in which there is a surplus of available gainful labor in the locality;
or significantly impair existing
4. Benefits. Authority to provide inmate workers with benefits comparable
to those made available by
the federal or state government to similarly situated private-sector employees,
including workers’ compensation and, in some circumstances, Social
5. Deductions. Corrections departments may opt to take deductions from inmate
Permissible deductions are limited to taxes, room and board, family support,
and victims’ compensation. If victims’ compensation deductions
are taken, written assurances that the deductions
will be not less than 5 percent and not more than 20 percent of gross wages
and that all deductions will
not total more than 80 percent of gross wages.
6. Voluntary participation. Written assurances that inmate participation is
7. Consultation with organized labor. Written proof of consultation
with organized labor prior to
8. Consultation with local private industry. Written proof of consultation
with local private industry
prior to program startup.
9. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Written proof of compliance with
requirements prior to program startup.
During the period December 1979 through
June 30, 2003, jurisdictions participating in
the program have paid the following wages and
collected the following amounts:
|Room and Board
Program Certification Process
Interested corrections departments may request a PIECP application from BJA
National Correctional Industries Association.
Applicants must provide written proof that they meet
all mandatory program criteria (including copies of
legislation and/or administrative rulings, as
appropriate). After reviewing and approving an
application, BJA will formally notify the jurisdiction that
it has been certified to participate in the program.
Certified jurisdictions must agree to enforce program
requirements. Certification may be terminated if a
jurisdiction is found to be out of compliance with any
of the mandatory program criteria or if the certification
is unused for 6 months or longer.
All states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth
of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and all units of local
government authorized by law to administer prison
industry programs are eligible to apply for program
As of March 2004, 38 jurisdictions were
certified. A complete list is available at the NCIA web
site at www.nationalcia.org.