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Preparation Prison Life After

07. Activities

Programs

The BOP recently published a National Directory of Programs available within its institutions.  These are broken down into three main areas:

  1. Industries, Education and Vocational Training
  2. Psychology Services
  3. Religious Services

While the BOP has a Vocational Training  program, it is not as robust as you might envision.  Due to cutbacks throughout the federal government, technical and vocational training is near the bottom of priorities.  There is little chance that an inmate can emerge from prison with licensing or skills in being a plumber, electrician, welder or chef.  When staff at a particular prison takes an interest, there may be programs available but they are few.

Adult Continuing Education (ACE) classes are offered as a program at every prison but the program content differs at each prison.  The BOP compares these types of classes as non-credit personal enrichment classes that would be offered at local community colleges.  Classes like Microsoft Word and Excel are taught on personal computers by inmates who have those skills.  Other classes, also usually taught by inmates, include job interview skills, resume writing and job search.

If an inmate does not have a high school diploma, or did not prove that she had one in the course of the Presentence Investigation, then participation in the GED (High School Equivalency) program is going to be mandatory.  These classes are taught by inmates who have a college degree.  These can be good and rewarding jobs for some inmates.  If an inmate refuses to participate in the required GED, it will result in a reduction of Good Time.

The BOP also offers programs in drug and alcohol addiction (not related to RDAP) and classes on parenting.  Participation in these classes may not be mandatory, but it is programs like these that look good as part of your prison record of engagement.

The other program initiatives were covered in previous sections.  However, there are additional programs that may be unique to certain prisons.  One of those is Puppies Behind Bars (PBB).

PBB trains prison inmates to raid service dogs for wounded war veterans and explosive detection canines for law enforcement.  Puppies enter prison at the age of eight weeks and live with their inmate for approximately two years.  As the puppies mature and progress through training, they are put into commission.  For many inmates programs like this provide a sense of purpose and helps them gain confidence that can be used once they leave prison.

PBB program facilities are in:

The BOP also started a National Paving Project with a crew of minimum security inmates. The inmates were trained and certified in asphalt paving operations, and given an opportunity to obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). The inmate paving crew and their BOP supervisors have traveled to thirty institutions that were in need of paving services to address deteriorating parking lots, perimeter roads and access roads.

In addition to saving the government money by providing a much needed service, at a cost significantly lower than would be charged by commercial pavers, the paving project provides inmates with marketable skills that translate into job opportunities following release. Specifically, the inmates are trained in paver equipment operation, work-zone safety, the compaction process, quality control, pavement principles, and site preparation and planning.

You cannot walk into prison and get into program like these, but they are there for those inmates who have years to serve.  As a general rule, small satellite prison camps tend to have fewer program options because of limited staff and resources, which are usually allocated to the higher security prison facilities.  Larger camps, particularly those on military bases tend to have more programs.

As with many activities and programs in prison, inmates have a lot of say in what programs are offered and the BOP has a few special programs that benefit society.