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Program Brief: Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2018
4 pages
Publication Series

This brief provides information on the background, primary objectives, benefits, and criteria for participation in the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP).


The PIECP is an inmate employment program that enables prisoners to repay their debt to society, reduce incarceration costs, and prepare for release with improved employment prospects. In the process, PIECP supports victims' families, decreases recidivism, produces products and tax income for local economies, and uses free-market principles and private-sector participation to improve efficiency in the corrections industry. PIECP enables private industry to establish joint ventures with federal, state, local, and tribal corrections agencies. These joint ventures produce goods with prison labor. Inmates are placed in realistic work environments that approximate private-sector jobs. Participating inmates are paid a prevailing local wage while acquiring marketable skills that improve their chances for rehabilitation and meaningful employment after release. The products inmates create offset the cost of their incarceration, compensate crime victims, and support inmates' families. Certification in the program exempts a corrections agency from normal restrictions on the sale of inmate-made goods in interstate commerce. A major 2006 study found that inmates who worked in PIECP jobs were significantly more successful in post-release employment. This brief outlines the criteria that must be met by corrections departments before they can participate in the PIECP.

Date Published: August 1, 2018