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Bja Program Brief Piecp 2004

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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs

Program Brief

B u r e a u

o f

J u s t i c e

A s s i s t a n c e

Bureau of Justice Assistance

Domingo S. Herraiz, Director
March 2004

Prison Industry
Enhancement Certification
he Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP)
exempts certified state and local departments of corrections
from normal restrictions on the sale of inmate-made goods in
interstate commerce. In addition, the program lifts restrictions
on these 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


PIECP was created by 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 is designed to place inmates in a realistic work environment,
pay them the prevailing local wage for similar work, and enable them
to acquire marketable skills to increase their potential for successful
rehabilitation and meaningful employment upon release.
A total of 50 jurisdictions may be certified under PIECP. To become
certified, each program must demonstrate to the Director of the
Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), U.S. Department of Justice, that

it meets statutory and guideline requirements as
listed under Mandatory Criteria for Program

About BJA
The Bureau of Justice Assistance was established in 1984 as a
component of the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of
Justice. BJA provides leadership and resources to state, local, and
tribal governments and communities to reduce crime, violence, and
drug abuse and to strengthen the nation’s criminal justice system.
BJA provides this assistance through formula and discretionary
grants, training and technical assistance, publications, and the BJA
web site.

For Further Information
For additional information about the Prison Industry Enhancement
Certification Program, contact:
National Correctional Industries Association
PIE Technical Assistance
1202 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201–5508
Fax: 410–230–3981
Web site:
Bureau of Justice Assistance
810 Seventh Street NW.
Washington, DC 20531
Fax: 202–305–1367
Web site:
For publications and information on other BJA-funded
programs, contact:
Bureau of Justice Assistance Clearinghouse
P.O. Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849–6000
Web site:
Clearinghouse staff are available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.
to 7 p.m. eastern time. Ask to be placed on the BJA mailing list.


The National Correctional Industries Association
(NCIA), the professional organization for prison
industry employees, provides technical assistance
for this program. Under a grant from BJA, the NCIA
staff of volunteer correctional industry professionals
assess programs for compliance with program
requirements and provide onsite and telephone
technical assistance to programs that are not in
compliance. NCIA provides additional technical
assistance by:
◆ Responding to specific requests for help from

participating jurisdictions.
◆ Providing program information to government

agencies, private-sector companies, journalists,
professional businesses, labor organizations, and
others interested in the program.
◆ Offering periodic training to program

◆ Helping to shape program policy

through development of program
guidelines, quarterly program data
summaries, and other documents in
response to program needs.
PIECP has two primary objectives:

Generate products and services
that enable inmates to make a
contribution to society, help offset the cost of
their incarceration, compensate crime victims,
and support their families.
◆ Reduce prison idleness, increase inmate job

skills, and improve the prospects for successful
inmate transition to the community upon release.

PIECP was first authorized under the Justice System
Improvement Act of 1979 (Public Law 96-157, Sec.
827) and later expanded under the Justice Assistance
Act of 1984 (Public Law 98-473, Sec. 819). The
Crime Control Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-647)
authorizes continuation of the program indefinitely.

Program Benefits
PIECP allows private industry to establish joint
ventures with state and local correctional agencies
to produce goods using inmate labor. The program

◆ The corrections administrator. The program is
a cost-effective way to occupy a portion of the
ever-growing prison population.

◆ The crime victim. The program provides a means
of partial repayment for harm sustained.

◆ The inmate. The program offers a chance to work,
meet financial obligations, increase job skills, and
increase the likelihood of meaningful employment
upon release from incarceration.

◆ The private sector. The program provides a stable
and readily available workforce. In addition, many
correctional agencies provide manufacturing space
to private-sector companies involved in the

◆ The public. 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.

Mandatory Criteria for Program
Corrections departments that apply to participate in
PIECP must meet all nine of the following criteria:

1. Eligibility. Authority to involve the private sector in
the production and sale of inmate-made goods on
the open market.
2. Wages. Authority to pay wages at a rate not less
than that paid for work of a similar nature in the
locality in which the work is performed.
3. Non-inmate worker displacement. Written
assurances that PIECP will not result in the
displacement of employed workers; be applied in
skills, crafts, or trades in which there is a surplus
of available gainful labor in the locality; or
significantly impair existing contracts.
4. Benefits. Authority to provide inmate workers with
benefits comparable to those made available by
the federal or state government to similarly
situated private-sector employees, including
workers’ compensation and, in some
circumstances, Social Security.
5. Deductions. Corrections departments may opt to
take deductions from inmate worker wages.
Permissible deductions are limited to taxes, room
and board, family support, and victims’
compensation. If victims’ compensation deductions
are taken, written assurances that the deductions
will be not less than 5 percent and not more than
20 percent of gross wages and that all deductions
will not total more than 80 percent of gross wages.
6. Voluntary participation. Written assurances that
inmate participation is voluntary.
7. Consultation with organized labor. Written proof of
consultation with organized labor prior to program
8. Consultation with local private industry. Written
proof of consultation with local private industry
prior to program startup.
9. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Written
proof of compliance with NEPA requirements prior
to program startup.


Wage Deductions
During the period December 1979 through June 30,
2003, jurisdictions participating in the program
have paid the following wages and collected the
following amounts:
Gross Wages


Victims Programs
Room and Board
Family Support
Total Taxes


Total Deductions


Program Certification Process
Interested corrections departments may request a
PIECP application from BJA or the National
Correctional Industries Association. Applicants must
provide written proof that they meet all mandatory
program criteria (including copies of legislation and/or

administrative rulings, as appropriate). After reviewing
and approving an application, BJA will formally notify
the jurisdiction that it has been certified to participate
in the program. Certified jurisdictions must agree to
enforce program requirements. Certification may be
terminated if a jurisdiction is found to be out of
compliance with any of the mandatory program criteria
or if the certification is unused for 6 months or longer.

Eligible Jurisdictions
All states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth
of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and all units of local
government authorized by law to administer prison
industry programs are eligible to apply for program
As of March 2004, 38 jurisdictions were certified.
A complete list is available at the NCIA web site at

Photos courtesy of the National Correctional Industries Association.

NCJ 203483
March 2004