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Do Federal Inmates Have To Work?

The original question came from a Quora post in the prison channel. Do inmates have to work? I don’t necessarily know the answer for state prisons but I can tell you that in Federal Prison if you are serving your time at a “work camp” (a minimum security facility) or a work compound (low, medium or USP) then one of the requirements to be at that facility is to hold an inmate job,

As with every situation there are some exceptions. One would be if you are confined to quarters for medical reasons. This is common at medical complexes such as Butner, Fort Worth or Springfield.

Most minimum security camps are “work camps”. In most situations the camp sits on a Federal Correctional Complex or FCC and the camp is there to support the other institutions with workers that handle things like landscaping, facilities (which includes electric and HVAC) and even at sometimes, food service. For example at FCC Butner the Medium II was without a chow hall so all the meals were prepared at the LSCI and at the camp. Those jobs of course supporting the Medium institution.

There are a wide variety of jobs available for inmates in the BOP including: landscaping, facilities (HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical), education, orderly positions and food service. Jobs in Federal Prison pay on a pay grade scale starting at a whopping 25 cents per hour. Unicor pay varies by institution and what that particular Unicor factory is doing.

One advantage to a job in Federal Prison is it does help the time pass by. Of course there are inmates out there that use their federal Prison jobs to facilitate a side hustle and we will be posting a tik tok about that soon. For more information check back here often or email me at and check us out at all social channels @thekylesandler