One of the least reported facts involving the PIECP program is that the Bureau of Justice Assistance is charged with oversight of the program. This federal agency has chosen to "outsource" actual oversight and regulation of it to a private association, the National Correctional Industries Association (NCIA), mentioned in the article.
Most people know nothing about the NCIA and don't take the time to research who this association really is and who they represent. The NCIA's membership is made up of employees, administrators, vendors, suppliers and PIECP partners of the fifty state correctional industries. On the NCIA website the association is self-described as "an international nonprofit professional association whose members represent all 50 state correctional industry agencies, Federal Prison Industries, foreign correctional industry agencies and city/county jail industry programs. Private sector companies that work in partnership with correctional industries both as suppliers/vendors and as partners in apprenticeship and work programs are also members."
In other words, the PIECP participants are self -regulating and provide their own oversight. I have worked for six years trying to get the DOJ, BJA and OJP to step in and provide actual oversight by replacing this association's involvement with a real unbiased oversight and regulatory agency. To no avail.
It is sad that to the NCIA and prison industries, prevailing wages actually means the federal minimum wage, and that is only paid in instances where they have to declare a particular order as a PIECP order. Often the inmates manufacture products at 25 cents an hour and those items are placed into inventory. Later they are drawn to fill PIECP orders, and the inmates receive no compensation for actually doing the work. This is especially true in Florida, where the prison industry is operated by PRIDE of FLorida. In 2005 a state audit found PRIDE's operations violated state laws and their actions were corruptive. The president, CEO and most of the board members were forced to resign or were terminated--yet no criminal charges were pursued.
The PIECP program is not as it is described by the NCIA and the BJA, and the participants operate on a for-profit basis rather than as a training operation for prisoners.
Apr 21 2009 - 2:44pm