Social Policy & Politics Program | Memo

Creating a 40-Hour Work Week for Incarcerated Individuals

by Lanae Erickson Hatalsky and Rachel Laser

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In 2010, 700,000 people will be released from prison. Based on past projections, nearly two-thirds of these people will be rearrested within 3 years of their release. The time to start addressing this “revolving door” problem is during incarceration. Yet most prisoners, instead of being held accountable for gaining the skills they need to be productive upon release, spend their time in idleness. To address this problem, Congress should pass legislation creating a 40-Hour Work Week program of responsible activities for incarcerated individuals, transforming their idle time into productivity and ensuring that they are working every day towards their successful release into the community.