Q&A on Correctional Industries program featuring work by inmates

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CONCORD, NH – A recent post on the grand opening of the revamped Correctional Industries retail shop in Concord, we heard from a lot of readers who had questions and comments about the program.

You asked, and we deliver.

Below is some additional information provided by Jeffrey Lyons, Public Information Officer for the NH Department of Corrections:

Q. How are inmates compensated and where does the money go from sales of items sold from the Retail Shop?

For Hobbycraft: Inmates buy their own raw materials using their own money.  They charge a price that they feel would be appropriate for their final project.  For each sale the retail store receives about 25 percent of the profit and the recreation program receives 10 percent of the profit.  Those “commissions” go back to fund these operations.  The inmate can keep the rest of the profits they make on each project and they often use the money to buy more raw material.  Sometimes they use it to help their family back home or to make victim restitution payments.

For Industries: The projects are all created under contracts with other state agencies, non-profit organizations, and sometimes individual citizens. The Industries program purchases all the raw materials and assigns an inmate to complete the project.  Any profits from these sale go back to fund the Correctional Industries program.  However, sometimes furniture, wooden tables, signs, etc., are built on spec and those are the items that are sold at the store.  But regular citizens can also go to the store and ask for a special project. We often get orders to re-upholster damaged furniture.

Q. How do inmates qualify for the program, and who are your instructors?

There are no “instructors” but there are shop managers.  These shop managers are state employees who often have a background in that particular field – such as printing, sign-making, furniture making, etc.  In Hobbycraft the inmates basically create things they wish to create using their own inner talents.  Although the NH Furniture Masters Association sends volunteers to instruct inmates on how to craft very high quality and specialized furniture, which are often entered into juried furniture manufacturing contests and sometimes donated to charity. Some inmates actually act as mentors for other inmates in Hobbycraft.

Technically, Correctional Industries has been around since the mid 19th-Century when inmates used to make cabinets.  But over the years industries programs have come and gone. We used to operate a full cattle farm for a while in the early 20th century. The license plate shop is our longest continually operating Industries shop. It opened in 1932.  Other Industries showed up in the 1940s and 1950s. We are always evaluating whether these are the right type of job skills training we should offer inmates.  Right now we operate the license plate shop, sign shop, woodworking shop, print shop, and furniture shop,   Here’s the link to our webpage:  http://www.nh.gov/nhdoc/divisions/corrrectional/index.html.

Q: How can the public contact the program for more information or to get a quote?

New Hampshire Correctional Industries, New Hampshire’s prison industry, creates revenue-generating work environments that provide inmates with the work experience, job skills, and the confident attitude they will need in order to obtain and hold jobs once released. Products from all shops are offered for sale to both businesses and individuals located in New Hampshire. Please contact the individual shops for product and service offerings as well as price quotes.

All shops can be reached by email at: industries.staff@doc.nh.gov

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About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!