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a group of workers in UNICOR

Program Details

UNICOR is a life-changing correctional program that has a profound impact on everyone in the community.


a man working in UNICOR

Inmate Facts

24% Less likely to recidivate after leaving prison
14% More likely to find and maintain employment
8% Participation rate - 25,000 inmates on the waiting list
23¢ to $1.15 Typical Hourly Pay

UNICOR is the trade name for Federal Prison Industries (FPI), a wholly owned Government corporation that was established by Congress on June 23, 1934. Its mission is to protect society and reduce crime by preparing inmates for successful reentry through job training. UNICOR is entirely self-sustaining, receiving no appropriated funds from Congress and operating at no cost to taxpayers.

UNICOR is first and foremost a correctional program. The impetus behind FPI is not about business, but rather inmate release preparation. UNICOR assists offenders with acquiring marketable job skills so that they can one day become law-abiding, contributing members of society. The production of items and provision of services are merely by-products of those efforts.

The Post-Release Employment Project (PREP) compared inmates who worked in prison industries with similar inmates who did not participate in the FPI program. PREP found that inmates who worked in FPI were significantly less likely to recidivate than inmates who did not participate. Inmates who participated were 24% less likely to revert to criminal behavior as much as 12 years following release and and 14% more likely to be gainfully employed following release from prison. Minority groups benefited the most when compared to their non-minority counterparts. Inmates who participated in FPI were also less likely to engage in prison misconduct while still incarcerated.

Although there are approximately 25,000 inmates who are waiting to work in UNICOR, only 8% of work-eligible inmates participate in the program where they typically earn between 23¢ to $1.15 per hour. A high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate is required for all work assignments above entry level (lowest pay level).

Program Benefits

UNICOR is a program that benefits everyone.


UNICOR programs help reduce recidivism, reduces the amount of government spending, and compensates society. The Inmate Financial Responsibility Program (IFRP) ensures that inmates who have financial obligations contribute 50% of their earnings. That money is used to pay for court-ordered fines, victim restitution, child support, incarceration fees, and other monetary judgments. In FY 2017 that amount equated to more than $941,000 dollars.

Private Sector

During FY 2013, 73% of UNICOR expenditures went toward the purchase of raw materials, supplies, equipment, and services from private sector businesses. More than 50% of UNICOR's purchases were from small or disadvantaged businesses.

Bureau of Prisons

UNICOR contributes significantly to the safety and security of Federal correctional facilities by keeping inmates constructively occupied. Inmates who participate in work programs and vocational training are less likely to engage in institutional misconduct, thereby enhancing the safety of staff and other inmates.

For many inmates, working in UNICOR represents an opportunity to learn a marketable skill and gain valuable work experience that will substantially enhance their ability to successfully reintegrate into society following release from prison. The program teaches inmates pro-social values including the value of work, responsibility, and the need to respect and work with others.

Specific Skills Taught
  • Equipment Maintenance
  • Carpentry
  • Forklift Operations
  • Customer Service
  • Basic Accounting
View All Skills
In their own words ...

Listen to an ex-offender explain how the UNICOR program has changed his life.

Watch the video
Specific Skills Taught
Clothing & Textiles
  • Sewing
  • Cutting Fabric
  • Reading Specifications
  • Reading Contracts
  • Basic Garment Construction

Industrial Products
  • Welding
  • Eyeglass Grinding
  • Metal Finishing
  • Cabinetry
  • Painting
  • Punch Press Operation
  • Tool & Die Fabrication

Office Furniture
  • Carpentry
  • Woodworking
  • Milling
  • Wood Finishing
  • Upholstery
  • Soldering
  • Electronic Testing
  • Wire Stripping
  • Tinning
  • Rubber Molding

Recycled Electronics Products
  • Sorting
  • Computer Identification
  • Hazardous Material Recognition
  • Technical Computer Skills
  • Computer Component Identification

  • Customer Service
  • Data Entry
  • Laundry
  • Packaging
  • Printing Equipment Operation
  • Screen Printing
  • Sorting
  • Word Processing
Fleet Management
  • Engine Repair
  • Forklift Repair
  • Vehicle Component Repair

Other work-related skills
  • Clerical (typing/filing)
  • Basic Accounting
  • Quality Control Inspection & Testing
  • Forklift Operation
  • Building & Equipment Maintenance & Repair
  • Computer-Aided Drafting
  • Test Lab Functions
  • Warehouse Operations


Currently, approximately 7% of the inmates employed by UNICOR are veterans. This employment is critical, as more than 200,000 veterans are incarcerated in the nation�s prisons and jails.


UNICOR is self-sustaining and operates at no cost to the taxpayer.

100% of revenues are eventually returned to the community.

  • 78% Private Sector

    Approximately $0.78 of each $1.00 in sales revenue is spent buying raw materials, supplies, services, and equipment from the private sector. More than half of all purchases were from small or disadvantaged businesses.

  • 18% Operations

    Approximately $0.18 of each $1.00 in sales revenue is used to cover the program's operational expenses including the salaries and benefits of the civil service staff who train and supervise inmate workers.

  • 4% Inmates

    Inmates receive approximately $0.04 of each $1.00 in sales revenue, primarily used to repay important financial obligations.

In FY 2017, UNICOR had $483.8 million in net sales.

Products & Services

UNICOR is required by statute to diversify its product offerings as much as possible, minimizing the program�s impact on any one industry. Currently UNICOR produces over 80 products and services including:

Textile Services

Capabilities include:

  • Cutting, Sewing & Weaving
  • Embroidery & Silk Screening
  • Upholstery

Electronic Products & Services

Capabilities include:

  • Kitting
  • Potting
  • Soldering
  • Lighting
  • Power Distribution
  • Assemblies
  • Communications

Metal Products & Services

Capabilities include:

  • Fabrication
  • Tool & Die
  • Welding
  • Machining
  • Coating and Finishing


Capabilities include:

  • Printing & Bindery
  • Pre-press
  • Warehousing & Distribution
  • CAD Design
  • Data Entry & Media Conversion
  • Contact Centers & Help Desks
  • Forward & Reverse Logistics

Vehicle Repair/Remanufacturing Services

Capabilities include:

  • Rebuilding, Retrofitting & Refurbishing
  • Fleet Life Cycle Maintenance & Scheduling

Wire/Plastic Products & Services

Capabilities include:

  • Braiding
  • Assembly
  • Injection Molding
  • Extrusion Molding

Wood Products & Services

Capabilities include:

  • Millwork
  • Sub-assembly
  • Finishing

Energy Conservation

Capabilities include:

  • Solar Applications
  • Electronics Recycling
  • E-waste Management (Federal, State, Municipal Partnerships & Co-ops


With a few limited exceptions, FPI is restricted to selling its products to the Federal Government.

FPI's derives over 50% of its sales from the Department of Defense.

Other key customers include:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Treasury
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Federal Bureau of Prisons
  • General Services Administration
  • Social Security Administration
  • United States Postal Service
seals of UNICOR customers

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2012 opened doors for greater private sector collaboration. UNICOR received legislative authority to work with private sector companies to manufacture and sell products in the commercial market, provided certain eligibility requirements are met. Repatriation authority was granted to participate in pilot projects (with prior Board approval) in the commercial sector, so long as the products are currently, or would otherwise be, produced and/or assembled outside the United States. Authority to participate in the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP) was also granted by Congress. These new authorities are expected to enhance UNICOR's value within the commercial marketplace and lead to additional inmate job opportunities in support of UNICOR's mission.

Factory Locations

UNICOR's network of nationwide locations (co-located to BOP facilities) helps to streamline operational costs and savings.