Case Studies

U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)

Organization:U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)

Benefit:Skilled Workforce

The Occupational Education Program (OEP) in the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) was designed to help people who are incarcerated acquire marketable skills in a wide variety of trades. BOP partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Apprenticeship in 2015, to help develop an apprenticeship standard that all facilities could adhere to, allowing inmates to start and finish a program with limited interruptions because of transfers. Prior to the partnership with DOL, each correctional facility had its own processes, procedures, and structures. DOL helped BOP develop the national apprenticeship standard that BOPs facilities used to significantly shift, streamline and improve how correctional facilities operate across the country. Because the program now operates under one system, BOP has realized myriad efficiencies. This effort involved getting program information from both federal and private entities such as UNICOR. OEP was established prior to the partnership with DOL, so it also required training and communication efforts to prepare, support, and help all stakeholders understand the benefits of a national apprenticeship program. Through this multi-pronged approach, DOL helped BOP streamline their organization and create more consistency and structure.

Correctional facilities may work with either career civil-service vocational training instructors or through contracts with colleges and technical schools to provide the theoretical learning for their apprenticeship programs. The programs are usually time-based with a few hybrid models that typically consist of 2,000+ hours and may take three-to-four years to complete. Apprenticeship programs typically require an inmate to have a GED or high school diploma or concurrent enrollment in the Literacy Program as a requirement. Wage progressions are standardized and documented in BOP's internal systems.