skip to main content
State of California Website Logo


Joint Venture Programs


Last updated: June 29, 2021

What is comparable wage?

This is a wage that is comparable to wages paid for work of a similar nature in the locality in which the work is to be performed. The Employment Development Department (EDD) will assist the employer in determining the minimum entry level wage.


How does EDD determine the entry level wage?

Prior to commencing business, all employers must submit detailed job descriptions for each inmate job position, establishing the minimum standards of acceptable participation and performance. The job descriptions shall include the tasks to be performed, machine(s) used and the skills, knowledge, and abilities required for each job.

These job descriptions are analyzed by the EDD to determine the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code. Using data from the Occupational Employment Surveys, the EDD will determine the minimum entry level wage of all inmate positions.


How do I start the process of becoming a JVP business?

All potential businesses submit a “mini-business plan” which includes such items as a description of your proposed business, preferred location, amount of space required, prior businesses experience, descriptions of inmate-employees’ job positions, and number of inmates required.

Once an acceptable location is selected, the business owner will tour the space, meet with the Warden, and determine the acceptability of the location.


What documents are required to become a JVP business?

Prior to start up, all businesses enter into a Standard Agreement (Contract) and Lease with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Department of General Services. Typical initial Contracts and Leases are for a five year term.


How are inmate-employees selected?

The business owner, in consultation with the prison staff, establish minimum job qualifications and minimum inmate selection criteria. Prison staff will screen inmates for safety and security concerns. The business owner will interview inmates and make the final decisions on the hiring of inmates. You are the sole employer of all inmate-employees.


What are my responsibilities as an employer?

Your responsibilities are the same as those for any non-inmate employee. You are solely responsible for determining the applicability of and ensuring compliance with all pertinent federal, state and local laws, and regulations when conducting your business. Each employer must comply with all required employment laws and relevant Labor Code provisions.


How are inmates paid?

Business owners prepare payments not less than twice a month in the name of the inmate. The business owner is solely responsible to deduct appropriate federal and state taxes, Social Security, and California State Unemployment. Disability Insurance is not deducted from inmates’ paychecks. These paychecks are mailed to a contracted financial firm who manages all the distributions from inmates’ paychecks.


What are the security procedures?

All necessary security procedures are determined by the Warden of the institution. During normal working hours, custody coverage is the responsibility of the institution.

When a Warden determines it is necessary for the security of the institution, he/she may order a complete lock down of the institution that may cause the industry to cease operations. JVP inmates are considered “critical workers” in the event of a lockdown, and will be returned to work as soon as possible.


How many non-inmate staff will I have to hire to supervise inmates?

Typically the ratio of non-inmate staff to inmates is one for each twenty inmates employed. All non-inmate staff will receive orientation training from the institution and receive institutional identification cards.


How are inmate work hours and schedule determined?

The business owner and Warden will establish normal work hours and the days of the week that inmates will work.


Can I terminate inmate-employees?

Yes. JVP inmate-employment is “at will” and as such is at the complete discretion of the employer, and may be lawfully terminated with or without cause.


What type of space is available?

Warehouse and classroom style space is available throughout California. Many spaces include loading docks, roll-up doors, adequate power loads, and inmate and staff restrooms.


Will I have private office space?

Factory space includes private office space. Businesses can install computers, fax machines, private telephones, and internet access at their expense.


How will shipping and receiving be handled by the institution?

All shipping and receiving procedures will be determined between the business owner and the Warden. After considering the security and safety needs of the prison, all efforts will be made to accommodate the business needs for the shipping and receiving of their raw material and finished products.

Joint Venture Program Location