This article reviews the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) efforts in working with Federal, State, and local agencies in preparing offenders and ex-inmates for employment.
NIJ's first significant involvement in the offender work arena began in the early 1980s shortly after Congress passed the Justice System Improvement Act of 1979. NIJ was the leader among Federal agencies in the development of correctional industries. NIJ-sponsored research included studies of effective correctional industry management practices, enabling State legislation, cost-effectiveness, and the dynamics of a corporation's decision to open a manufacturing operation inside a correctional facility. In another major initiative, NIJ joined with the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) and the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Correctional Education (OCE) to research and document various approaches to life skills training and postrelease job placement strategies. This effort resulted in a series of publications written with practitioners' needs in mind. Through these publications, correctional administrators can identify the common threads running through the development and implementation of effective offender job placement and retention programs. NIC developed a training curriculum for offender job placement specialists. Currently, NIJ continues its work with a number of Federal, State, and local partners in developing and testing a variety of approaches to offender reentry management. With NIJ's assistance, several offender reentry partnerships have been established in communities across the Nation.