Occupational Education Programs

Program Description The Occupational Education Program is designed to help inmates acquire marketable skills in a wide variety of trades. Programs which vary from institution to institution are provided by either career civil-service vocational training instructors or through contracts with colleges and technical schools. Many institutions also provide registered apprenticeships through the United States Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship.

An Inmate Occupational Training Directory, outlining the specifics for programs offered at each institution was published in September 2013. The Directory is accessible via: http://www.bop.gov/inmates/custody_and_care/docs/inmate_occupational_training_directory.pdf

Time Frame Program length varies with the provider and the complexity of the program. Upon completion of a marketable occupational education program, inmates may earn an AA, AS, AAS degree and/or an industry recognized certification. Apprenticeship programs are usually 2,000+ hours and may take three to four years to complete.
Admission Criteria All inmates are eligible to participate in an institution’s occupational education program. The inmate’s unit team, in consultation with the Education Department, determines if a particular course of study is suited to the inmate’s needs. Inmates with a demonstrated need for occupational training may have their enrollments deferred until the latter part of their sentence, to ensure their training is current upon release. Occupational education programs typically require an inmate to have a GED or high school diploma or concurrent enrollment in the Literacy Program.

Inmates under orders of deportation, exclusion, or removal may participate in an institution’s occupational education program if institution resources permit after meeting the needs of other eligible inmates.

Program Content Program content focuses on developing the skills necessary for entry-level employment in a given trade.
Empirical Support Evidence shows a relationship between correctional education program participation before release and lower odds of recidivating after release (Davis et al., 2014; Saylor and Gaes, 1996; Aos, Phipps, Barnoski and Lieb, 2001). In a study conducted in Maryland, Minnesota and Ohio, correctional education participants had lower recidivism rates in the categories of re-arrest, re-conviction, and re-incarceration (Steurer, Smith and Tracy, 2001). There is some evidence that in-prison vocational education is effective in improving individuals’ likelihood of post-release employment (Davis et al., 2014).
Applicable Policies 5353.01 Occupational Education Programs.
5300.21 Education, Training and Leisure Time Program Standards.
Institution Locations All Bureau facilities are mandated to offer Occupational Training with the following exceptions: metropolitan correctional centers, metropolitan/federal detention centers, the Federal Transportation Center, satellite camps, and the administrative maximum facility.