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Guide to Private Sector Prison Industries: Identifying, Screening and Contacting Companies

NCJ Number
L Oppenheim; G Sexton
Date Published
49 pages
This report describes a process for identifying, screening, and contacting private sector companies that are most likely to be interested in using prisoners as part of their work force.
Private sector prison industries (PSPI) are joint ventures between prisoners and companies in which prisoners produce goods or services to be sold on the open market. Local circumstances and particular needs of both the prison and the company determine the nature of the public-private relationship in any PSPI. Such ventures, however, generally take one of two forms: (1) employer model in which a company owns and operates a business inside a prison; or (2) customer model in which a company contracts with a prison to provide goods or services for a fee. Factors to be considered in evaluating the relative merits of these models are regulatory parameters, management and technical expertise, production capacity, level of control desired, and level of risk and reward desired. Certain characteristics should be kept in mind when considering an industry's potential for involvement in PSPI, such as industry characteristics, proximity to prison, company size, the prison, and the labor force. Private sector prison industries are distinguished from other prison-based and community-based work programs for offenders. A process is outlined for identifying broad industry categories and then selecting specific companies which are the best potential partners for PSPI. Basic guidelines for contacting and meeting with decisionmakers in private companies are offered. Appendixes contain additional information on PSPI regulatory parameters, PSPI program guidelines, and successful PSPI cases.