|Establish a range of sanctions and incentives that agencies responsible for collections can exercise when a person released from prison or jail does not meet his or her child support and court-ordered financial obligations.|
|Develop programs, such as job placement and training in personal finance management, to increase the earning capacity of people who have been unable to meet their financial obligations.|
While some individuals require sanctions to compel payment, many others make legitimate attempts to meet their financial obligations upon release from prison or jail. These individuals, who typically are unable to obtain employment (or employment with decent wages) because of their limited education or marketable job skills often fall short of their goals to meet their obligations.
In such cases, removing these barriers and supporting people who are able to work in finding and maintaining employment will enable these individuals to resume payments to victims and families. Corrections departments and agencies responsible for collections should provide these individuals with a range of programs, as appropriate, to increase their earnings capacity and enable them to meet their financial obligations:
- Prison-based work and savings programs.
- Training in financial management, budgeting, and other organizational skills.
- Job training, job placement, and employment.4
- Collection delays in the event of illness, hospitalization, or injury.
- Assistance for people who are eligible in gaining access to federal benefits and other public benefits programs.
Prison Industry Enhancement, United States
The Prison Industry Enhancement portion of the Justice System Improvement Act of 1979 (18 U.S.C. 1761(c)), established mechanisms for industries to provide prevailing wage employment for offenders, and to deduct a portion of these wages towards taxes, incarceration costs, crime victims compensation boards, savings, and financial obligations.1 Between 1979 and 2005, participants set aside more than $13 million in mandatory savings accounts (for reentry needs such as housing); generated approximately $33 million toward victims programs (including restitution); and paid more than $21 million toward family support (including child support).2
Financial Education Classes, Department of Corrections, Minnesota
The Minnesota Department of Corrections contracts with a private, nonprofit financial education company to provide budgeting and money management classes for people who are incarcerated. The agency also provides free credit reports and counseling to people who are close to release from prison and helps participants improve their credit ratings and increase the likelihood that they will successfully obtain housing and employment and meet their financial obligations.3
Center for Employment Opportunities, Department of Corrections, New York City, New York
The Center for Employment Opportunities meets individuals at the moment of their release from New York City's Rikers Island Jail and provides transportation from Rikers Island directly to work sites scattered across the city. Participants work on day-labor crews, which are run by city and state agencies and involve a variety of assignments including providing custodial services to government buildings, maintaining nature trails, painting classrooms, and cleaning roadways.
Parents Fair Share Program, Department of Corrections and Department of Economic Development, Missouri
In collaboration with the Missouri Department of Corrections, the Missouri Department of Economic Development provides employment and training services to people who are incarcerated or who have been released to the community. Eligible individuals can also participate in the Parents Fair Share program, which provides job placement, transportation assistance, and parenting education. The goal of the program is to increase the ability of parents who are being released from prison to meet their children's emotional and financial needs, including child support. Through other programs, participants also receive budgeting and life skills classes, and photo identification.5
Intensive Supervision Program, Adult Probation Department, New Jersey
In cases where an individual's substance abuse problem interferes with his or her ability to obtain or maintain employment, probation personnel delay collections until the person has completed substance abuse treatment. For individuals with severe mental illness, the probation department provides job training and placement for those who can work, and collects a portion of the disability checks of those who cannot work but have sufficient resources to make payments. Probation personnel also delay collections in cases of pregnancy or injury.6
Social Security Access, Department of Corrections, New York City, New York
The New York City Department of Corrections plans to locate part-time Social Security Administration staff in its jail at Rikers Island to help complete Social Security applications for people while they are still in detention.7
1 Thomas Petersik, Tapan Nayak, and M. Katie Forman, Identifying Beneficiaries of PIE Inmate Incomes: Who Benefits from Wage Earnings of Inmates Working in the Prison Industry Enhancement (PIE) Program? (Washington, D.C.: Washington University Center for Economic Research, 2003).
2 John Howard, “Prison Industry Enhancement,” Georgia Department of Corrections Operations, Planning and Training Division, retrieved at www.dcor.state.ga.us/NewsRoom/Publications/pdf/PIEbrochure.pdf, October 23, 2006.
3 Personal communication, D. J. Enga, Outreach & Education Director, Auriton Solutions, Minnesota, April 11, 2006.
4 For more information on workforce development, employment, and reentry, see the Employment and Education section of the Reentry Policy Council Web site at www.reentrypolicy.org.
5 Personal communication, Tom Clements, Assistant Division Director, Division of Adult Institutions, Department of Corrections, Missouri, November 28, 2005.
6 Personal Communication, Harvey Goldstein, Chief, Intensive Supervision Program, Adult Probation Department, New Jersey, May 11, 2006.
7 For more information on increasing access to federal benefits, also go to www.reentrypolicy.org.