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Abstract

Impact sourcing is the practice of training and hiring marginalized individuals (people who normally would have few opportunities for good employment) to provide information technology (IT), business process, or other digitally-enabled services. Perhaps no other population is more marginalized than prisoners. Worldwide there are over six million prisoners, of which over two million areU.S.prisoners. In theU.S., 95 percent of inmates will one day be released. Prison employment programs are interventions aimed at preparing inmates to reenter society. We studied a special type of prison employment program: the hiring and training of prisoners to perform business services using a computer. The impact of prison sourcing needs to be understood in two distinct time periods: while in prison and after prison. Based on a case study at a U.S. Federal Correctional Institution employing 140 inmates in prison sourcing, we found evidence that prison sourcing for business services positively affects the inmates while in prison. The main benefits are good financial compensation, work habit development, productively occupying time, development of business skills, and the elevation of self-efficacy and status. We have almost no data about the impact on future prospects and explain why this gap happens.

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