Of the approximate 8,000 incarcerated individuals in Iowa’s prisons, over 95% will eventually return to society. Reentry refers to the transition of these individuals back into the community, and reentry programs serve to assist these individuals with this transition throughout their incarceration. IPI plays an active role in Iowa’s reentry process by providing incarcerated men and women both occupational skills training and soft skills enhancement.
Many trade skills are available to incarcerated individuals working in IPI’s shops. Depending on the shop, skills such as woodworking, welding, computer operations, warehousing, sewing, inventory, and print press operation just to name a few. But just as important as the job skills learned, inmates also acquire solid work ethic traits, such as punctuality, meeting deadlines, and working as a team with supervisors and co-workers. These men and women also gain other intangibles such as self-respect, responsibility and respect for others.
As IPI offers training to over 700 incarcerated individuals daily in its programs, IPI plays a significant role in reentry. Finding and keeping employment is vital to a former incarcerated individual’s ability to stay crime-free; an unemployed ex-inmate is four times more likely to return to prison than an ex-inmate who is employed. Unfortunately, finding work is one of the most difficult challenges facing ex-inmates, even in a state with low unemployment rates such as Iowa.
As important as IPI work training programs are to reducing recidivism – the likelihood that a released incarcerated individual will return to prison – IPI is a self-funding agency and thus receives no appropriations from the State to operate. IPI therefore operates much like any private-sector business and relies on the sales of its products and services to provide incarcerated individuals with the opportunity for Building Brighter Futures.