Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Greater Access to Paid Prison Apprenticeship Programs Could Improve Inmates’ Post-Release Outcomes
Press Release

RELEASE: Greater Access to Paid Prison Apprenticeship Programs Could Improve Inmates’ Post-Release Outcomes

Washington, D.C. — Today, as part of work tied to Second Chance Month, the Center for American Progress published a brief laying out the post-release advantages for increasing access to paid prison apprenticeships, given that employment post-release is known to decrease the likelihood of recidivism, particularly if it is secured shortly after release and is well-paying.

“Apprenticeships could help formerly incarcerated individuals achieve gainful employment post-release by providing an earn and learn strategy that combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction,” said Angela Hanks, Associate Director of Workforce Development Policy at CAP and a co-author of the brief. “This is particularly important for individuals who face multiple barriers to labor market entry, such as racial or other forms of discrimination.”

As detailed in the brief, people with criminal records—especially people of color—face significant barriers to labor market entry. Research shows that employers are 50 percent less likely to hire someone with a criminal record, and 60 percent of formerly incarcerated individuals are unemployed one year after release.

While prison apprenticeships show promise, as currently designed, they suffer the same fundamental flaw as other prison programs: They are either unpaid or pay well below the minimum wage, with a median starting wage of inmate apprentices found to be 7 cents an hour and the median exit wage at 35 cents an hour.

“While apprenticeships offer solutions to a hard-to-tackle problem, they are not a magic pill,” said Annie McGrew, Special Assistant for the Economy team at CAP and a co-author of the brief. “In order to be most beneficial to inmates and have long-lasting positive effects, these types of prison programs should pay at least minimum wage.”

Click here to read the brief “The Case for Paid Apprenticeships Behind Bars” by Annie McGrew and Angela Hanks.

For more information or to speak to an expert on this topic, please contact Tanya Arditi at [email protected] or 202-741-6258.