Development of Jail Industries

Providing technical assistance to the National Institute of Corrections Jail Center, ILJ conducted a nationwide telephone survey of jails to ascertain the current state of correctional industries. Based upon the assumption that large jails are more likely to contain industry programs, a sample of 74 county sites in 23 states was drawn. The 72 county sites that responded to the survey had a combined total of 196 facilities with an inmate population of 108,000. The survey questionnaire had a dual focus: (1) to examine the operations and management of industries in those jails having such programs; (2) to elicit information on the potential for industries in others. The primary finding was that there is a broad level of activity and interest in jail industries. Thirteen jails already operate an industry; eight are planning to establish an industry program; and a large number of administrators expressed substantial interest in establishing an industry if legal and political constraints could be overcome. Many advantages were attributed to an industry program: reduction in idleness, facilitation of management, inmate training, and a reduction in operational costs.