State

July 18, 2014

California prison program expects profit this year

A state system that uses inmate labor to provide goods and services will see its revenues jump 15.6 percent in fiscal 2014-15, according to a plan recently approved by the board of the California Prison Industry Authority.

A state system that uses inmate labor to provide goods and services will see its revenues jump 15.6 percent in fiscal 2014-15, according to a plan recently approved by the board of the California Prison Industry Authority.

The self-sustaining program will take in an anticipated $196.3 million this year that will fully fund its operations at 34 Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation facilities. The authority oversees inmate training programs that operate manufacturing, service, and agriculture industries. They produce everything from modular buildings and fire protection gear to furniture and pre-packaged meals. Most of what PIA makes is purchased by the state or other government entities. About 6,700 inmates will participate this year, earning nominal wages for their work.

Just a few years ago, the program was losing money, pinched by factory-closure costs, higher benefits costs for its government employees and money it put aside in anticipation of settling lawsuits.

This year’s rebound is fueled by an expansion of the authority’s construction and maintenance operation into specialized healthcare facilities at all of CDCR’s institutions. The expansion will employ over 900 inmates and generate $18.8 million in new revenue, the authority said in its annual plan.

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