Federal Prison Industries (commonly referred to as FPI or by its trade name UNICOR) is a wholly-owned, Government corporation established by Congress on June 23, 1934. Its mission is to employ and provide job skills training to the greatest practicable number of inmates confined within the Federal Bureau of Prisons; contribute to the safety and security of our Nation’s Federal correctional facilities by keeping inmates constructively occupied; produce market-priced quality goods and services for sale to the Federal Government; operate in a self-sustaining manner; and minimize FPI’s impact on private business and labor.
A Business or Correctional Program?
FPI is, first and foremost, a correctional program. The whole impetus behind FPI is not about business, but instead, about inmate release preparation … helping offenders acquire the skills necessary to successfully make that transition from prison to law-abiding, contributing members of society. The production of items and provision of services are merely by-products of those efforts.
Research has shown that inmates who participate in the FPI program are less likely to revert to criminal behavior and are more likely to be gainfully employed following release from prison. The Post-Release Employment Project (PREP) compared inmates who worked in prison industries with similar inmates who did not participate in the FPI program. PREP found that inmates who worked in FPI were significantly less likely to recidivate than inmates who did not participate, for as much as 12 years following release. Inmates who participate in FPI were also less likely to engage in prison misconduct. In addition, minority groups that are at the greatest risk for recidivism benefitted more from industrial work participation and vocational training than their non-minority counterparts.
Who are the Customers?
By statute, FPI is restricted to selling its products to the Federal Government. Its principal customer is the Department of Defense, from which FPI derives approximately 60 percent of its sales. Other key customers include the General Services Administration, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Social Security Administration, Department of Justice, United States Postal Service, Department of Transportation, Department of the Treasury, Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
For further information about UNICOR, please visit their website at www.unicor.gov.