Benefits Of Inmate Employment Programs: Evidence From The Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program

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Jeffrey D. Hopper


Prison Employment, Recidivism, PIECP, Inmate Work Program


The United States is experiencing a persistent increase in its prison population and, consequently, a steady increase in public spending on incarceration. A possible systemic change to mitigate these trends is a return to historically cost effective inmate labor programs. Government savings and business revenues from these programs have been documented. Additional benefits have been hypothesized from an associated reduction in recidivism. This paper examines if this recidivism effect occurs following inmate participation in the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP). Inmate characteristics and PIECP participation variables are identified as potential predictors of recidivism. Logit regression procedures, including a two-stage instrumental variable procedure to address endogeneity, are used to capture the predictive value of the independent variables and quantify the reduction in the odds of inmate recidivism attributable to PIECP participation. The results indicate that employment in a PIECP program contributes to a statistically significant reduction in the odds of inmate recidivism.


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