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Prisoners' Participation in Work, Training Reduces Recidism, Improves Behavior

Federal Bureau of Prisons announces results of study

Prison inmates who have jobs or receive vocational training while incarcerated are better prisoners and are less likely to commit new crimes or become parole violators once they are released, according to a study conducted by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The study, begun in 1983 and called the "Post Release Employment Project," is based on data on over 7,000 federal prisoners. Its results were announced December 19 by the bureau's director, J. Michael Quinlan.

The study compared prisoners who did at least six months' work for Federal Prison Industries or received vocational training, or both, with a control group who had not participated in these programs. Of the control group, 10.1 percent had either been arrested or committed a technical violation of their release conditions after being out for a year. The comparable figure for the study group was 6.6 percent. Inmates in the study group were also more likely to remain employed; at the end of a year 71.7 percent of the study group inmates were still employed as compared to 63.1 percent of the control group. The study group inmates also earned slightly higher wages.

Quinlan noted that the work and training offered in prisons are for many inmates their first opportunity to develop basic work habits. "In Federal Prison Industries, for the first time in their lives, they learn not only specific skills, but also work habits they can take with them after release, as a foundation for a productive return to community life," he said. "This is an extremely significant finding and clearly beneficial to society in breaking the cycle of crime, because individuals who are steadily employed are far better positioned to be functional, law-abiding citizens."

The study also found that inmates in the study group adjusted better to prison life than other inmates.

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