[Congressional Bills 111th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 4458 Introduced in House (IH)]

111th CONGRESS
  2d Session
                                H. R. 4458

 To increase public safety and reduce recidivism rates by creating a 3-
year pilot program under which the Attorney General provides grants to 
correctional facilities to establish a 40-hour work week curriculum of 
          responsible activities for incarcerated individuals.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                            January 13, 2010

  Mr. Weiner introduced the following bill; which was referred to the 
                       Committee on the Judiciary

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
 To increase public safety and reduce recidivism rates by creating a 3-
year pilot program under which the Attorney General provides grants to 
correctional facilities to establish a 40-hour work week curriculum of 
          responsible activities for incarcerated individuals.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``The Inmate Work, Education, and 
Responsibility Curriculum Act of 2009'' or the ``I-WERC Act''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds the following:
            (1) More than 2,300,000 people are incarcerated in Federal, 
        State, Tribal, or local correction facilities in the United 
        States, with an average stay of 30 months.
            (2) Of the individuals now in prison, 97 percent will 
        eventually be released into communities. More than 700,000 of 
        these individuals are released into communities every year.
            (3) A Bureau of Justice Statistics Report found 67.5 
        percent of people released from correctional facilities in 1994 
        were arrested again within the 3-year period after their 
        release from incarceration.
            (4) Many of the men and women who will leave correction 
        facilities each year have mental health and alcohol or 
        substance use disorders, have low levels of education and job 
        training, and face significant barriers to employment.
            (5) A number of studies have shown that at every stage of 
        the criminal justice process--from arrest, pretrial, 
        conviction, to incarceration--81 percent of those incarcerated 
        in Federal facilities, and 77 percent of those housed in local 
        jails have alcohol and drug use problems, or were under the 
        influence of alcohol or drugs when they committed their 
        offenses. However, only 13 percent of these individuals receive 
        drug and alcohol treatment while they are incarcerated 
        according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
            (6) Substance use disorder treatment has been proven to 
        reduce drug use, recidivism, unemployment, and homelessness, 
        according to several studies, and every dollar invested in 
        substance use disorder treatment saves taxpayers $7.46 in other 
        social costs.
            (7) Individuals reentering society from incarceration have 
        significant educational needs. Fewer than half of those 
        released have a high school education or higher. The typical 
        Louisiana inmate has a fifth grade literacy level.
            (8) Prison inmates interviewed as part of the Department of 
        Justice's Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative 
        evaluation identified education as topping their list of most 
        vital needs for a successful reentry into the community from 
        prison.
            (9) According to a recent study of releases from the 
        Indiana Department of Corrections, recidivism, education, and 
        employment are closely linked. As the level of education goes 
        up, the likelihood of employment increases. As employment 
        increases, the likelihood of recidivism decreases.
            (10) According to the National Center for Education 
        Statistics, more prison inmates were on waiting lists for 
        vocational training programs than were enrolled in such 
        programs when sampled as part of the National Assessment of 
        Adult Literacy in 2004.
            (11) State, Tribal, and local governments have not been 
        able to maintain prison education programs in the face of a 
        prison population that has nearly doubled in the past decade. 
        As a result, according to the National Institute for Literacy, 
        the percentage of incarcerated individuals participating in 
        correctional education programs is declining.
            (12) A study funded by the Department of Education found 
        that participation in correctional education programs lowers 
        the likelihood of an individual being incarcerated again by 29 
        percent, and that for every dollar spent on education, more 
        than two dollars in reduced prison costs would be returned to 
        taxpayers. The Federal Bureau of Prisons also found a 33 
        percent drop in recidivism among people detained in Federal 
        facilities who participate in vocational and apprenticeship 
        training.
            (13) According to the National Institute of Justice, 60 
        percent of formerly incarcerated individuals are unemployed 
        after 1 year of release. Unemployment can contribute to the 
        likelihood of repeating criminal conduct.
            (14) Job training and placement programs for formerly 
        incarcerated people have been shown in a number of studies to 
        improve employment outcomes and reduce recidivism.

SEC. 3. PURPOSE.

    The purpose of this Act is to increase public safety and reduce 
recidivism rates by establishing a grant program under which the 
Attorney General provides competitive grants to State, Tribal, and 
local corrections agencies to help finance a 40-hour work week 
curriculum of self-improvement activities for incarcerated individuals 
that promotes responsibility, education, family, work, and parenthood.

SEC. 4. PILOT PROGRAM TO MAKE GRANTS TO STATE, TRIBAL, AND LOCAL 
              CORRECTIONS AGENCIES.

    (a) Grants Authorized.--For the purpose described in section 3, the 
Attorney General shall establish a 3-year pilot program under which the 
Attorney General is authorized to make grants on a competitive basis to 
State, Tribal, and local corrections agencies to fund a 40-hour work 
week curriculum of self-improvement activities for inmates that promote 
responsibility, education, family, work, and parenthood in accordance 
with the provisions of this section.
    (b) Application.--
            (1) In general.--Each State, Tribal, or local corrections 
        agency seeking a grant under this section shall submit an 
        application to the Attorney General at such time, in such 
        manner, and containing such information as the Attorney General 
        may require.
            (2) Contents.--Each application submitted pursuant to 
        paragraph (1) shall--
                    (A) describe and outline the 40-hour work week 
                curriculum that each applicant plans to implement under 
                the grant, including what activities a participant will 
                be expected to attend as part of such curriculum;
                    (B) list the prisons or jail facilities where the 
                40-hour work week curriculum will be implemented;
                    (C) detail the number of people who will 
                participate in the curriculum and how such people will 
                be chosen to participate;
                    (D) state the budget plan of the applicant for 
                implementation of the grant, as well as an 
                identification of sources for the matching requirement 
                imposed under section 7; and
                    (E) explain the standards for determining the 
                performance of an incarcerated individual participating 
                in the 40-hour work week curriculum.
    (c) Use of Funds.--
            (1) 40-hour work week curriculum.--A grant awarded to a 
        State, Tribal, or local corrections agency under this section 
        shall be used to establish a 40-hour work week curriculum that 
        includes a minimum of 3 of the following coordinated 
        activities:
                    (A) Working toward and acquiring a General 
                Equivalency Diploma (in this section referred to as 
                ``GED''), under which GED classes must be included in 
                the curriculum for all incarcerated individuals lacking 
                a high school diploma or GED.
                    (B) Literacy training.
                    (C) College courses.
                    (D) Vocational training and education under which--
                            (i) such training and education shall be in 
                        accordance with State and local laws 
                        prohibiting currently and formerly incarcerated 
                        people from engaging in certain trades or 
                        occupations; and
                            (ii) facilities shall provide job training 
                        for positions that are currently in high demand 
                        to meet workforce needs.
                    (E) Civic or citizenship education.
                    (F) Special education.
                    (G) Cognitive skills training.
                    (H) Job and skills training, which shall be in 
                accordance with State and local laws prohibiting 
                currently and formerly incarcerated people from 
                engaging in certain trades or occupations.
                    (I) Clinically appropriate substance use disorder 
                services, including prevention and treatment services 
                and appropriate recovery support services.
                    (J) Mental health treatment.
                    (K) Anger management or conflict resolution 
                programs.
                    (L) Prison work and other prison jobs.
                    (M) Restorative justice activities, including 
                community service, victim restitution, victim-offender 
                dialogue, and groups or classes focusing on 
                accountability, victim impact, or both.
                    (N) Mentoring sessions.
                    (O) Life skills training, including parenting 
                classes, financial management, entrepreneurship 
                training, health education, and career development.
            (2) Application of state and federal licensing 
        requirements; coordination with state substance abuse 
        agencies.--All curriculum activities and providers must comport 
        with applicable State and Federal licensing requirements. 
        Grantees must ensure that all substance use disorder services, 
        including prevention, treatment, and recovery support services, 
        are provided in coordination with the State substance abuse 
        agency.
            (3) Additional authorized activities.--In addition to the 
        activities described in paragraph (1), a demonstration grant 
        awarded to a State, Tribal, or local corrections agency under 
        this section may be used--
                    (A) to pay teachers, counselors, therapists, and 
                other specialists to work with incarcerated people as 
                part of the 40-hour work week curriculum established 
                under this section;
                    (B) to make grants to nonprofit organizations, 
                educational facilities, or other community partners to 
                implement programs that provide one or more of the 
                approved 40-hour work week curriculum activities;
                    (C) to pay for the costs associated with 
                undertaking the initial assessments for participants 
                required under section 5(a); and
                    (D) to pay for security and administrative costs 
                associated with providing activities within the 
                authorized curriculum.

SEC. 5. PARTICIPATION REQUIREMENTS.

    (a) Assessments.--Any incarcerated person who is required to, or 
volunteers to, participate in the 40-hour work week curriculum funded 
by a grant awarded under section 4 shall be subject to an assessment, 
using validated assessment tools, of the person's mental, physical, 
intellectual, and vocational abilities in order to formulate an initial 
curriculum for such person.
    (b) Participation.--
            (1) Required participants.--Corrections officials may 
        require each incarcerated person who is within 3 years of the 
        release date or date of parole eligibility for such person to 
        participate in the 40-hour work week curriculum funded by a 
        grant under section 4.
            (2) Voluntary participants.--Corrections officials may 
        expand the 40-hour work week curriculum so funded to other 
        incarcerated persons who on a voluntary basis wish to 
        participate in such curriculum but are not yet within 3 years 
        of their release date or parole eligibility date.
            (3) Consultation.--Corrections officials may consult with 
        the applicable parole board when identifying participants for 
        the 40-hour work week curriculum so funded.
    (c) Incentives for Participating Inmates.--Under a 40-hour work 
week curriculum funded by a grant awarded under section 4, an 
incarcerated person who participates in such curriculum may receive 
rewards for successful completion of such curriculum, including--
            (1) good time credit;
            (2) monetary compensation;
            (3) additional and more flexible visitation rights, 
        consistent with public safety and in accordance with visitation 
        guidelines;
            (4) letters of recommendation for when the incarcerated 
        person leaves the correctional institution involved; and
            (5) other incentives as are allowed under the appropriate 
        State law.
    (d) Required Information To Be Supplied to Participating 
Individuals.--Any incarcerated person who participates in a 40-hour 
work week curriculum funded by a grant awarded under section 4 shall 
receive information on how such person can restore any legal, civil, or 
employment rights, including voting rights, under the laws of the State 
in which such person is going to be released.

SEC. 6. RESEARCH GRANT.

    The Attorney General is authorized to award a grant to the National 
Institute of Justice to design and conduct a study of the 40-hour work 
week curriculums funded by grants awarded under section 4 to determine 
the success or failure of such curriculums.

SEC. 7. MATCHING REQUIREMENT.

    (a) In General.--The Attorney General may not make a grant to a 
State, Tribal, or local corrections agency under section 4 unless the 
State, Tribal, or local corrections agency agrees that with respect to 
the costs incurred by the State, Tribal, or local corrections agency in 
carrying out the 40-hour work week curriculum for which the grant was 
awarded, the State, Tribal, or local corrections agency will make 
available (directly or through donations from public or private 
entities) non-Federal contributions in an amount equal to 50 percent of 
such costs.
    (b) In-Kind Contributions.--The recipient of a grant awarded under 
section 4 may meet the matching requirement under subsection (A) by 
making in-kind contributions of goods or services that are directly 
related to the purpose for which such grant was awarded.

SEC. 8. SUBMISSION OF REPORTS TO CONGRESS.

    Not later than January 31 of each year (before 2014), the Attorney 
General shall submit to the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate 
and the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives a 
report on the success or failure of the curriculums developed under 
this bill during the preceding year.

SEC. 9. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

    (a) In General.--There are authorized to be appropriated 
$160,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2011, 2012, and 2013 to carry 
out the provisions of this Act.
    (b) Research Grant.--Of the amounts appropriated in subsection (a), 
$5,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2011, 2012, and 2013 shall be used 
to carry out the research grant established under section 6.
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