Building Inmates' Skills through Training, Industry and Education

By Jones, Wes | Corrections Today, February 1993 | Go to article overview

Building Inmates' Skills through Training, Industry and Education


Jones, Wes, Corrections Today


In the 1980s, several corrections agencies in the United States began using a concept known as TIE, which stands for Training, Industry and Education. The concept is based on the idea that incarceration should encourage--not interrupt--individuals' self-improvement.

The TIE concept offers inmates the opportunity to participate in positive and meaningful self-help and educational activities. Precise records document the skills and knowledge each inmate has upon entering the correctional system and record the gains he or she makes during incarceration. Inmates leave prison with a portfolio describing their abilities and achievements for use during job searches.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has used the TIE concept since 1986 to manage the inmate population and enhance the department's rehabilitative efforts. Currently, TIE is used at all 23 state facilities.

Correctional systems use TIE for several reasons:

* to maintain order, cleanliness, safety and security;

* to formally link education programs with industry programs, institutional jobs and vocational development;

* to mandate and organize inmate work assignments, thereby reducing idleness and fostering good work habits; and

* to develop and document inmate skills and knowledge for their successful social and vocational reintegration after release.

With this approach, all facility programs relate directly to work skills. By stressing education in tandem with work, TIE programs promote inmates' self-esteem and personal responsibility while preparing them for productive lives as family members, workers and citizens after release.

Most correctional systems nationwide are experiencing crowding and reductions in resources. A TIE policy can provide a clear sense of direction that more efficiently applies staff efforts and better controls inmate activities.

Growing unemployment rates and fewer job openings underscore the need to prepare inmates to compete in the vocational marketplace after release. Most inmates have gaps in their education and employment histories that must be addressed if society expects offenders to leave prison and not return.

The TIE concept allows each inmate to participate in a range of programs tailored to address his or her needs. Three general types of program administration--mandatory, optional and voluntary--are used.

Under mandatory administration, all inmates must have work assignments. Jobs either are linked to a specific job track or are based on institutional needs. Under optional administration, basic literacy skills are urged for all inmates as a foundation for quality work performance. Under voluntary administration, inmates must accept responsibility to participate in opportunities for self-improvement through vocational, religious, recreational, substance abuse and other programs.

In Ohio, TIE starts with reception, where inmates receive complete physical, psychological and social evaluations to establish a profile for further institutional treatment. Staff document their aptitudes, interests and skills to begin the comprehensive record they carry with them through their sentences.

Next, using several background and performance factors such as prior employment, acquired skills, prior education, military services and test results, staff identify job assignments they believe will most benefit inmates.

Ohio has five job tracks: academic, vocational, service, industrial and special needs. Except for a small number of inmates convicted of certain crimes, all inmates are placed in a track.

Academic. This track is for inmates working toward equivalency degrees such as Adult Basic Education and General Educational Development or post-secondary achievements. It includes tutorial programs, English as a Second Language programs and literacy programs. Inmates successfully completing these programs are considered for institutional job assignments requiring clerical skills. …

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