Prison Work Programs with Unemployment Insurance: Generating Tax Revenue and Less Crime

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Working Paper

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Corrections-Based Work Programs, Recidivism, Unemployment Benefits


Prison-based work programs as well as income payments to released prisoners are both potential ways to reduce recidivism. Currently, these two components are loosely connected as prisoners who participate in work programs save, voluntarily or as a requirement, a fraction of their earnings and spend it after they are released. Alternatively, we propose prisoners pay into an unemployment insurance fund, be paid unemployment benefits after release up to the amount they paid into the system, and forgo remaining payments if re-incarcerated. Money paid into the system and lost due to recidivism can be kept by the government.

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