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Civilian Inmate Labor Program

18 USC 4125 and Section 203 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1992 (33 USC 2325) provide USACE with the authority to establish civilian inmate labor programs at Army Civil Works projects. Services provided by inmates may include but are not limited to environmental protection, constructing or repairing roads, clearing, maintaining and reforesting public lands, building levees, providing repair and maintenance work such as mowing, painting, carpentry, cutting trees, landscaping, planting, trash pickup, custodial work and constructing or repairing any other public works financed wholly or in major part by funds appropriated by Congress.

Only minimum-security community custody inmates are authorized to perform tasks at Army Civil Works projects. These inmates are those convicted of nonviolent crimes who have been judged by the established correction facility standards to represent no threat to the population at the project and who are not considered escape risks.

Benefits of the program include:

  • Provide a source of labor at no direct labor cost to the Corps
  • Accomplish tasks that would not be possible due to funding and staffing constraints
  • Provide meaningful work for inmates

District Commanders may enter into agreements with Federal Bureau of Prisons or State/Local Correctional Systems concerning the use of civilian prison labor on Corps-managed water resource development projects by preparing a memorandum of agreement (MOA) using the model agreements provided.

Authorities and Policies


    Q: Does the CILP include community service workers who have court ordered service but are not incarcerated?
    A: No. Community service workers who are not in custody of a corrections facility are treated as a regular volunteer, signed up on the OF 301a form. There may be additional paperwork/ coordination with the court system to verify hours worked.

    Q: Are work release inmates (those who are incarcerated in the evenings, but released without supervision during the daytime to perform work outside the corrections facility) included in the CILP?
    A: Yes, however the requesting site would need to request a deviation from the DCW for the approved template MOA regarding unsupervised inmates.

    Q: Can USACE pay the corrections facility for transport of the inmates?
    A: No, the correction facility must handle all inmate transportation, including the cost to transport.


Approved MOAs

Success Stories

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    Updated: February 2021