The purpose of the Bureau of Correctional Enterprises (BCE) is to enhance public safety by providing jobs and training for inmates to develop marketable skills and experiences in financially viable businesses while producing quality products and services for BCE customers. The four components to BCE are:
- Badger State Industries
- Correctional Farms
- Badger State Logistics
- Transition Program
BCE agriculture operations exist at three farms and a dairy. BCE’s 12 industries, collectively known as Badger State Industries or BSI, operate within 11 correctional institutions. BCE’s logistics operations include two warehouses and a small fleet of trucks. BCE’s Transition Program is based in the bureau’s central office in Madison and works state-wide to provide services to BCE inmate workers who choose to participate. Bureau employees train and guide an annual average of nearly 800 inmate workers in agriculture, industries, and logistics operations.
The bureau contributes to meeting the department’s mission by providing opportunities for inmates to work, learn and earn. These are opportunities inmate workers can use to better prepare themselves to succeed in department facilities, as well as when they return to their families and communities. BCE inmate workers contribute to institution safety and security in several ways. Inmates must not have had any major rule violations for 12 months before they can apply for a BCE job and they must remain free of major violations to keep a BCE job. Those requirements, along with the time and energy inmate workers spend on the job, reduce the number and likelihood of dangerous behaviors by BCE inmate workers.
BCE inmate workers invest in learning. Inmates must have earned a high school diploma or a GED/HSED before they can apply for a BCE job. Inmate workers learn general work skills, like getting to work each day, getting through the work day in spite of challenges with equipment and people, and being productive by completing assigned tasks. Inmate workers learn technical work skills, including but not limited to: fork lift operations; metal fabrication and machining; wood fabrication; commercial sewing; custom signs graphic and engineering design; inventory management; and commercial printing. Learning inmates are strong job applicants and able to quickly become valuable employees whom Wisconsin businesses want to hire and retain. BCE work environments mirror, as closely as possible, those in the private sector. Production techniques, costing, and quality control are part of the training experience inmates receive during their employment with BCE. The Bureau often works in partnership with institutional vocational training programs to enhance work skills development for inmates and partners with the Department of Workforce Development to provide certified apprenticeship training programs.
BCE inmate workers earn money used to pay financial obligations and prepare for a more successful return to their families and communities. Inmate workers’ earnings are used to make court ordered payments of restitution to victims of their crimes and child support to their dependent children. Earnings are also deposited into the inmate worker’s release account so s/he has available funds upon release, which add to stability and reduce the likelihood of future criminal behavior.
BCE’s Transition Program employees assist current or former inmate workers, if they chose to participate in the program, with a number of tasks as their release date approaches. For example, inmates receive help preparing a résumé. Program employees search for and supply leads on vacant jobs that are near the inmate’s approved release address and relate as closely as possible to the inmate’s educational and work experience. The Program may also fund the purchase of specific tools and/or clothes needed to accept a job s/he has been offered. The Transition Program is the culmination of the inmate’s BCE experiences.
Thank you for your time and interest in the Bureau of Correctional Enterprises. Please see the most recent BCE annual report for more information.