Private Industries


To establish employment opportunities for prisoners that approximate private sector work opportunities. The program is designed to place offenders in a realistic working environment, pay them the local prevailing wage for similar work, and enable them to acquire marketable skills to increase their potential for successful rehabilitation and meaningful employment upon release.

Everyone benefits from Joint Ventures

Companies are attracted to working with prisons because offenders represent a readily available and dependable source of entry-level labor that is a cost-effective alternative to work forces found in Mexico, the Caribbean Basin, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Rim countries. "Domestic content is an important benefit of using a prison-based work force compared with using an offshore labor market," says one industry executive. He went on to say, "We can put a Made-in-the-U.S.A. label on our product. In fact, our sales staff told us that the retention of these jobs in the United States influenced purchasing agents at two large organizations to buy our product rather than a competitor's whose product is made offshore. Keeping the jobs in the country helped line workers in our other plants accept the idea of a prison-based work force."

Correctional Administrators Report

Joint ventures provide meaningful, productive employment that helps to reduce offender idleness, considered to be a common cause of prisoner disruptions. Correctional administrators also indicate that the existence of private sector jobs can be used to motivate positive behavior and good work habits on the part of the offenders throughout the prison. The offender who realizes that an initial assignment in the kitchen might some day lead to a higher paying job in a plant is more likely to work hard and stay out of trouble in order to get that better job tomorrow.

The general public, too, tends to endorse productive employment for offenders when they are assured that prison-based jobs will not displace law-abiding citizens.

Want to know more?

If your company is interested in learning more about this program, contact Justin Farris at 1-800-522-3565, or e-mail OCI Customer Service

Public Law 96-157

In 1979, Congress enacted Public Law 96-157 (Codified at 18 U.S.C. 1761 (c) and 41 U.S.C. 35) which created the Private Sector/Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program (PS/PIECP). The program authorizes correctional agencies to engage in the interstate shipment of prison-made goods for private business use if:

  • Offenders working in private sector prison industries are paid at a rate not less than the rate paid for work of a similar nature in the locality in which the work takes place.
  • Prior to the initiation of a project, local unions and local business are consulted and provided identification of the intended industry, projected initiation date and an explanation of the fact that statutory consultation is required and comments are invited.
  • Deductions, if taken for taxes, room and board, allocations for family support and contributions to a fund to compensate victims of crime, in aggregate, cannot exceed 80% of gross wages.
  • Benefits must be comparable to those paid private sector employees, including workers' compensation and, under certain circumstances, social security.
  • The industry must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and other related federal environmental review requirements. 
  • The employment of offenders does not result in the displacement of employed workers outside the prison, does not occur in occupations in which there is surplus of labor in the locality, and does not impair existing contracts for services.