The goal of this study was to conduct a national empirical assessment of post-release employment and recidivism effects based on legislative intent for inmates participating in Prison Industries Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP) as compared to participants in traditional industries (TI) and those involved in other than work (OTW) activities. The research responded to the following two questions:
- Does PIECP participation increase post release employment as compared to traditional industries (TI) work or other than work (OTW) activities?
- Does PIECP participation reduce recidivism as compared to traditional industries work or other than work?
The research design for this study was a quasi-experimental design using matched samples with a test group of Prison Industries Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP) participants and two control groups of those who work in traditional industries (TI) and those involved in other than work (OTW) activities using quantitative analysis of data collected from agency records. The inmates were matched using six criteria. Exact matches were made on race (minority and white), gender (male and female), crime type (person and all other), and category matches on age (five criteria categories), time served (seven criteria categories), and number of disciplinary reports (ten criteria categories).
The researchers then collected data on 6,464 individuals by completing record reviews of outcomes for the 3 matched samples, each of approximately 2,200 inmates released from 46 prisons across 5 PIECP states between January 1, 1996, and June 30, 2001, which permitted at least a 2-year follow-up and a maximum of 7.5 years. The key to both research questions was to accurately measure the follow-up time period. Employment effects were measured by time to obtain employment (i.e., reported earnings in a given quarter) and the time to loss of employment (i.e., no earnings reported for a quarter). Recidivism was measured by the time it took from release to first recidivism (i.e., arrest, conviction, and incarceration).
A cluster sampling strategy was used for site selection. This strategy insures a sufficiently large sample by selecting states that have large numbers of Prison Industries Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP) workers within the confines of other criteria. A ranking according to the number of PIECP workers was created. The selection process from the top ranking states included all major United States geographic regions, rural and urban populations, gender representation to ensure results can be determined based on gender, and each of the models of PIECP (employer, manpower, customer). Additionally, each state had PIECP certification prior to 1996. This strategy excluded states with low numbers of industry workers. This strategy resulted in a selection of five states which were not identified in the study.
Sample selection included the following steps:
- A survey was administered to all PIECP certificate holders eligible for the study (n = 36), those with certification prior to 1996, to determine the willingness and availability of data with an affirmative response.
- To ensure a sufficient sample size to detect the differences and to be as nationally representative as possible, a list of relevant factors was developed to ensure sufficient numbers of inmates that worked in PIECP have been released, including number of workers, certification date, region, PIECP model and rural versus urban characteristics.
- The states were ranked according to the number of workers employed during a mid year between the years under examination. (This year was withheld to prevent identification of the states involved in the study.)
- States were selected beginning with the largest number of PIECP workers. For example, state one was selected. It represented the eastern and rural portion of the United States. State two was selected from the next in the list, representing west and urban. If state three was also western and urban, it was skipped and the next state was selected.
The researchers then collected data on 6,464 individuals by completing record reviews of outcomes for the three matched samples, each of approximately 2,200 inmates released from 46 prisons across 5 PIECP states between between January 1, 1996, and June 30, 2001, which permitted at least a 2-year follow-up and a maximum of 7.5 years.
All inmates in the United States released between January 1, 1996, and June 30, 2001, who were participants in either the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP), the traditional industries (TI) program, or the other than work (OTW) program.
Data were collected from agency records.
administrative records data
Variables include demographic information (age, sex, race), time incarcerated (days, months), number of disciplinary reports, crime type, number of major disciplinary reports reviewed, group type, number of quarters from release to employment, censored variables (relative to employment, employment to job loss, arrested after release, convicted after release, incarcerated after release), number of quarters from employed to job loss, time from release variables (time from release to arrest, time from release to conviction, time from release to incarceration), number of possible follow-up quarters, proportion of follow-up time worked, wage variables (total wages before incarceration, total wages during incarceration, total wages after incarceration, post hourly wages), number of quarters worked variables (before incarceration, while incarcerated, after release), no work ever, and cluster number of case.