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Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2004
4 pages
This paper discusses the features of the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP), which exempts certified State and local departments of corrections from normal restrictions on the sale of inmate-made goods in interstate commerce.
Created by the U.S. 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 also lifts restrictions on certified corrections departments, permitting them to sell inmate-made goods to the Federal Government in amounts exceeding the $10,000 maximum normally imposed on such transactions. To become certified under PIECP, a program must demonstrate to the Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice, that it meets statutory and guideline requirements. The National Correctional Industries Association, the professional organization for prison industry employees, provides technical assistance for the program. The PIECP is a cost-effective way to occupy a portion of the expanding prison population, and it enables offenders to earn money for partial repayment for harm caused by their offenses. For the inmate, the program provides an opportunity to work, meet financial obligations, increase job skills, and increase the likelihood of significant employment upon release from incarceration. In addition, many correctional agencies provide manufacturing space to private-sector companies involved in the program. 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. This report outlines the mandatory criteria for program participation, displays the wages and wage deductions under the program for the period December 1979 through June 30, 2003, and provides information on the program certification process and eligible jurisdictions.