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California Prison Industry


Last updated: March 30, 2022

The California Prison Industry (CALPIA) is a self-supporting, customer-focused business that provides productive work assignments for approximately 7,000 incarcerated individuals within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) institutions. CALPIA manages over 100 manufacturing, service, and consumable operations in all CDCR institutions throughout California. The goods and services produced by CALPIA are sold predominately to departments of the State of California, as well as other government entities. CALPIA’s goal is to train incarcerated individuals with job skills, good work habits, and basic education and job support in the community, so when they parole they never return to prison.

CALPIA’s Authorizing Statute

  • CALPIA Reduces Recidivism and Increases Public Safety.

CALPIA prepares incarcerated individuals for productive lives and reduces incarceration costs. Paroled incarcerated individuals who participated in CALPIA programs are less likely to return to prison than general population incarcerated individuals. Although other relevant factors may contribute to lowering recidivism, over a three-year period, beginning in FY 2007-08, CALPIA participants returned to prison, on average, 26 to 38 percent less often than incarcerated individuals released from the CDCR general population, saving the General Fund millions in incarceration cost avoidance. CALPIA provides CDCR with incarcerated individual programming positions, thereby saving CDCR in General Fund costs for rehabilitation positions that CDCR does not have to fund.

  • The goods and services produced by CALPIA’s enterprises are sold predominately to departments of the State of California, as well as other government entities.

CDCR is CALPIA’s largest customer, and accounted for 68.8 percent of all sales in FY 2020-21, up from 64.3 percent in FY 2019-20. Other major State customers include the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the Department of State Hospitals (DSH), the Department of Health Care Services (DHS), the Department of Transportation (CalTrans), the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), the California National Guard, the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the Department of Veteran Affairs (CDVA), the Department of General Services (DGS), the Department of Military, and the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR).

  • CALPIA invests in curricula for incarcerated individuals.

CALPIA offers programs that offer nationally recognized accredited certification such as dental technology, food handling, laundry, agriculture, welding, metal stamping, industrial safety and health, electrical systems, mechanical systems and maintenance.

  • CALPIA provides annual savings to taxpayers and state agencies.

CALPIA’s incarcerated individual programming saves the State General Fund millions of dollars annually through lower recidivism. It also saves CDCR millions of dollars by providing approximately 7,000 alternatively funded programming positions for incarcerated individuals that CDCR does not have to fund.

To achieve its mission, CALPIA has established three main strategic and business goals:

  1. Enhance Incarcerated Individuals’ Lives to Reduce Recidivism
  2. Provide High-Quality, Sustainable Products and Services
  3. Foster Continuous Improvement as Customer-Focused Organization
  • CALPIA provides significant economic benefits to the State.

CALPIA supports California’s economy through its operations and the purchase of raw materials from California businesses according to a 2014 study by associates of the University of Nevada and the University of California Berkeley. (2014 study)

  • CALPIA participants pay back society.

CALPIA participants contribute a percentage of their wages to pay court-ordered restitution and fees.

  • CALPIA participants make prisons safer.

Reducing idleness decreases violence against both staff and those who are incarcerated. CALPIA participants must have no disciplinary actions against them in order to keep their jobs. CALPIA participants much achieve a General Equivalency Diploma within two years to continue participation.

  • CALPIA products and services are available to government entities.

State and Federal agencies, city, county and local districts may purchase CALPIA products and services.

CALPIA Founding

CALPIA was created by Chapter 1549, Statutes of 1982 as a semiautonomous state agency to operate California’s prison industries in a manner similar to private industry. CALPIA is established to:

  • Develop and operate manufacturing, agricultural, and service enterprises that provide work opportunities for incarcerated individuals under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
  • Create and maintain working conditions within enterprises, as much like those which prevail in private industry as possible, to assure incarcerated individuals assigned therein the opportunity to work productively, to earn funds, and to acquire or improve effective work habits or occupational skills
  • Operate work programs for incarcerated individuals that are self-supporting through the generation of sufficient funds from the sale of products and services to pay all its expenses, thereby avoiding the cost of alternative inmate programming by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Fast Facts

  • CALPIA provides work assignments for approximately 7,000 incarcerated individuals and operates over 100 service, manufacturing, and consumable factories at all prisons throughout California.
  • CALPIA is self-supporting and does not receive an annual appropriation from the Legislature. CALPIA’s revenue comes from the sale of its products and services to governmental organizations.
  • CALPIA’s industries produce over 1,400 goods and services including: office furniture, clothing, food products, shoes, printing services, signs, binders, eye wear, gloves, license plates, cell equipment, and much more.
  • In 2000, CALPIA began the development of the Industry Employment Program to enhance the ability of incarcerated individuals to obtain private sector jobs upon their release from prison. The program documents and certifies an incarcerated individuals’ skills, work experience, and positive work habits acquired while assigned to CALPIA’s enterprises.
  • CALPIA’s job assignments are voluntary-incarcerated individuals are not required to work; however, incarcerated individuals are generally eager to participate, as waiting lists are common for many CALPIA assignments. The CALPIA work assignments can help incarcerated individuals learn work skills and habits to become productive members of society.
  • CALPIA enterprises operate within Federal and State health, safety, and occupational regulations.
  • CALPIA programs assist incarcerated individuals in learning the value of work. Many CALPIA incarcerated individuals have never held a job or learned the value of work. CALPIA staff expects incarcerated individuals to learn appropriate behavior on the job, do quality work, report to work on time, and follow occupational health and safety rules.
  • The Prison Industry Board (PIB)was established to oversee the operations of CALPIA, much like a corporate board of directors. The 11-member Board sets general policy for CALPIA, oversees the performance of existing CALPIA industries, determines which new industries shall be established, approves its annual plan, and appoints and monitors the performance of the General Manager. The Board also serves as a public hearing body charged with ensuring that CALPIA enterprises do not create a substantial adverse impact on California industry.