Employment and Vocation Programs in Prison

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The Oxford Handbook of Prisons and Imprisonment

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Historically, work has played an important role in managing correctional populations and providing a means to reduce prisoner idleness. As correctional ideologies have shifted over time, the concept of working while incarcerated has taken on more of a rehabilitative approach. Several policies and correctional initiatives have been developed to integrate prison industry and employment services into correctional systems in an effort to address the poor employment histories and low job-related skills of offenders. Evaluations of these programs demonstrate that participation in prison industry and employment services can increase job prospects and lower the chances of recidivism. The effectiveness of prison-based employment programs vary, however, and is dependent upon the key components incorporated into their design. Despite the differences between programs, employment services offered in prison seem to be an effective approach to addressing employment deficits among offenders.


Book chapter published in The Oxford Handbook of Prisons and Imprisonment, edited by John Wooldredge and Paula Smith.



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