After years of profitability, the California Prison Industry Authority suffered a $15.3 million loss last year, according to its latest annual report to the state Legislature.
The losses in fiscal 2010-11 came from a $17.4 million drop in operating revenues and $8.6 million the self-funded PIA set aside in anticipation of settling union furlough lawsuits. The authority also paid $6.3 million to cover Other Post-Employment Benefits such as retiree health care and a $2.8 million expense from factory closures.
"If not for the furlough expense, the annual OPEB charge, and the onetime costs associated with factory closures, CALPIA would have continued its profitability in FY 2010-11," the report says.
The PIA oversees four inmate training programs that operate manufacturing, service, and agriculture industries at 22 correctional facilities. They produce everything from modular buildings and fire protection gear to furniture and pre-packaged meals. Most of what PIA makes is purchased by the state or other government entities.
More than 7,000 inmates participate, saving the state "more than $11 million annually in General Fund costs for rehabilitation positions that CDCR does not have to fund," the annual report says. Those inmates make between 30 and 95 cents per hour before deductions.
Participants without a high school diploma must earn a GED within two years to continue in the program. Joint Venture Program participants earn a comparable wage less deductions for things like taxes, room and board, crime victim compensation, government-ordered restitution such as child support. Inmates in the program also have to put money into a savings account.
Graduates from the PIA's Career Technical Education program, which gives inmates "hands-on experience in real world training," were 89 percent less likely to return to prison when compared with the prison system's general population, according to the report. Overall, PIA participants across the board had a 24 percent to 30 percent lower recidivism rate than the general prison population.