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Hiring a Federal Inmate for Your Business

Have you ever considered hiring a federal inmate for your business? Many business owners are surprised to learn that they can hire qualified individuals who are currently incarcerated in federal prisons. In fact, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has a program in place to facilitate the employment of federal inmates by private businesses. But how much does it cost to hire a federal inmate for your business? Let’s explore the details.

The Benefits of Hiring Federal Inmates

One of the main benefits of hiring federal inmates is the potential to reduce labor costs. The BOP provides participating businesses with a Wage and Performance Incentive (WPI) program, which allows inmates to earn wages while incarcerated. The WPI covers the cost of wages, workers’ compensation, and other related expenses. This means that businesses can hire federal inmates at a significantly lower cost than traditional employees.

Additionally, hiring federal inmates can help businesses contribute to the rehabilitation and reintegration of incarcerated individuals. By providing inmates with employment opportunities, businesses can play a role in reducing recidivism and promoting successful reentry into society. This can have a positive impact on communities and the criminal justice system as a whole.

The Cost of Hiring a Federal Inmate

So, how much does it actually cost to hire a federal inmate for your business? The specific costs can vary depending on factors such as the location of the federal prison, the nature of the work, and the inmate’s skills and experience. However, the BOP’s WPI program is designed to make hiring federal inmates a cost-effective option for businesses.

In general, the cost of hiring a federal inmate is based on their hourly wage, which is determined by the BOP. As of 2021, the minimum hourly wage for federal inmates under the WPI program is $0.23, and the maximum is $1.15. These wages are significantly lower than the federal minimum wage for traditional employees, making hiring federal inmates an attractive option for businesses looking to save on labor costs.

In addition to the hourly wage, businesses are also responsible for covering the cost of workers’ compensation insurance for the inmate workers. This is a standard requirement for all employees, and the specific cost can vary depending on the nature of the work and the inmate’s risk level. However, the BOP provides guidance and assistance to help businesses navigate the process of obtaining workers’ compensation coverage for federal inmate workers.

What You Need to Know Before Hiring a Federal Inmate

Before hiring a federal inmate for your business, there are a few important factors to consider. First, it’s essential to ensure that the inmate is eligible to participate in the WPI program. Inmates must meet certain criteria, including a good conduct record and a demonstrated commitment to rehabilitation and reentry. Additionally, businesses must comply with all BOP regulations and guidelines for employing federal inmates, including security protocols and record-keeping requirements.

It’s also important to consider the potential challenges and risks associated with hiring federal inmates. While the BOP provides support and oversight to ensure the safety and security of inmate workers, businesses should be prepared to address any unique issues that may arise. This includes providing appropriate training and supervision, as well as following all relevant laws and regulations related to inmate employment.


In conclusion, hiring federal inmates can be a cost-effective and impactful option for businesses looking to fill labor needs. The BOP’s WPI program provides businesses with an opportunity to hire qualified inmate workers at a fraction of the cost of traditional employees, while also contributing to the rehabilitation and reintegration of incarcerated individuals. By understanding the costs and considerations associated with hiring federal inmates, businesses can make informed decisions about whether this option is right for them.