Although they’re not busting rocks on a chain gang, Ohio's 51,000 state prisoners are required to do more than lounge in bed and watch TV all day, reports the Dayton Daily News. “Offenders are required to either work, go to school or participate in programming such as educational, recovery services,” said state Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) spokeswoman JoEllen Smith. The policy helps inmates learn marketable job skills for when they're released and it keeps the felons busy while they're in prison.
But with Ohio's prisons stuffed with 30 percent more inmates than they're designed for, there's only so much work to go around. The premium jobs are with Ohio Penal Industries, which pays 47 cents an hour to $1.23 an hour and offers a chance to learn. While DRC has an overall recidivism rate of 38 percent, OPI inmates return to prison only 18 percent of the time. The lower rate could be attributed to job skills learned at OPI or to the caliber of inmates who are screened and hired by OPI.