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Equipped And Ready

Equipped And Ready

Interested in learning about an effective and efficient way to tap into a labor pool of skilled, trained, and available workers?

Hiring a formerly incarcerated person through the many opportunities listed on this site can help you reduce company HR expenses.

It’s true: you can access grantee organizations that provide no-fee staffing services. These groups take on the recruiting, pre-screening, and hiring tasks, opening the door to your finding qualified employees.

Wondering what skills and work experience these prospective employees have, when are they available, and how you can make contact with them? Check out the following sections to discover the services that will help you meet your bottom line.

Skilled and Trained Workforce

“Research has shown that inmates who participate in vocational training programs while in prison are more successful in obtaining employment and their retention on the job is greater.”
Rob Atkinson and Knut A. Rostad
Urban Institute Roundtable

The period of incarceration is an opportunity to build skills and prepare for future employment. One of the most successful vocational training programs in prisons around the country is Federal Prison Industries, also known as UNICOR, a work opportunity training program dating back to 1934 offered by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.


Through UNICOR, inmates receive hands-on instruction that supports meaningful work and creates marketable skills. The program offers instruction, training, and production taught by certified instructors who have worked in the field and current employers in that particular industry. Graduates return to society with hands-on work experience, soft skills development, increased self-esteem, and a “can-do” attitude. Inmates participating in UNICOR meet the preliminary industry requirements for the training, are highly motivated, and have enough time remaining on their sentence to successfully complete the required vocational training and, in some cases, receive certification in the field of instruction.

The good news…
“Rigorous research demonstrates that participation in prison industries and vocational training programs has a positive effect on post-release employment and recidivism for up to 12 years following release. Inmates who worked in prison industries or completed vocational apprenticeship programs were 24 percent less likely to recidivate than non-program participants and 14 percent more likely to be gainfully employed.”
UNICOR website

Industry areas include:

  • Clothing and textile
  • Office furniture
  • Data and document conversion
  • Electronics and components
  • Electronics recycling
  • Fleet and training site solution
  • Industrial products and storage
  • Printing and bindery
  • Solar and renewable energy
  • Vehicular refurbishing and repair
  • Warehousing and distribution

For additional information visit the UNICOR website at

When summing up why hiring someone who has been trained by UNICOR makes good business sense, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger of the United States Supreme Court said it best, "It makes no sense to put people in prison and not train them to do something constructive." And that is exactly what UNICOR does!

Ready for Work

Work release programs provide an important bridge between prison and returning to the community. These programs:

✓ Supply support services that promote transition to life outside of incarceration.

✓ Help inmates find employment in their city and hone the social skills that will make them successful in the workplace and at home.

✓ Give participants opportunities to demonstrate their rehabilitation.

Here’s how it works. Inmates are identified as work release candidates within 6 months of their release. These individuals have complied with all of the rules and regulations and demonstrated exemplary behavior. Many have also obtained vocational skills training during their incarceration. Once placed in a program, participants are expected to go to work each day and return to the work release facility at night.

Work release allows individuals to become comfortable in the workplace and strengthen their work ethics. Additionally, they establish an employment history and make money to support themselves and their families. Many of the individuals who are participating in these programs are employed in industries that they worked in prior to incarceration.

Employers who hire a participant from the work release program provide on-the-job training and employment and reap the benefits of someone who is dedicated to being an exemplary employee.

Staffing Service


As an employer, you are quite aware of the wide range of services that are available to help you meet your staffing needs. Did you know that there are programs that supply:

  • ✓ Skills assessments
  • ✓ Educational assessments and training
  • ✓ One-on-one supportive services
  • ✓ Job readiness training and placement
  • ✓ Vocational training
  • ✓ Mentoring
  • ✓ Connections to other resources in the community

At no cost to you, the employer? Since 2003, non-profit, community and national organizations, and local government agencies have received funding from the Federal government and private foundations to help justice-involved individuals secure and retain employment. They do the hard part of identifying the right candidates and preparing them for your workplace. An important part of their job is to continue supporting your new employee(s) and you after candidates have been placed. They are basically full-service staffing agencies.

Data indicates that individuals who participate in these programs do better in the workplace. In 2001, the Department of Labor, the Department of Justice, and a consortium of private foundations funded a 3-year reentry research initiative—Ready4Work—that provided transitional services, mentoring, and employment services to individuals returning from prison. The results were excellent. Data demonstrated that individuals returning from prison who connected with the organizations providing these services returned to prison 44 percent less than than the national average rate of recidivism (Former President George Bush, 2003 State of the Union Address ).

Since 2009, over 1,000 grantees have provided services in 49 states and the District of Columbia. These entities, which supply training, employment services, and post-employment support, have contributed to the successful re-integration of formerly incarcerated individuals returning to society. Their efforts have supported the development of a labor pool that is available, pre-screened, qualified, and skilled.

These organizations are ready to connect you to your future employees. Visit Ready, Set, Go! to start a new hiring process that will help eliminate your staffing costs while introducing you to a pool of viable candidates for your open positions.