Maine State Prison Information
Most State Prisons in the US have programs that help inmates pick up skills and build a better life for themselves while they are still serving their sentence and also once they leave prison. In some cases, prison management goes a step further and puts the inmates’ skills to good use. One such case in point is the Maine State Prison, that sells handicrafts made by their inmates in a nifty little store off US highway.
A Special Little Store
The Maine State Prison Store has attracted all sorts of visitors right since it was opened back in 1824. The industries program started in the Maine prison not only helps the inmates gain useful skills but it also helps them in their journey of getting back in society after their term. As per the Facebook page of this little store, they have come a long way in terms of the products they offer for sale. They started with simple things like sleighs and wagons that the inmates would learn to make in their basic woodwork classes. They now make fine home furniture and handicrafts that have grabbed the attention of a large number of people, including tourists.
The store has something for everyone – from souvenirs for tourists to local citizens looking for cheap yet tasteful home decor. The carefully crafted trinkets are extremely competitively priced, and the fact that these products are made by inmates makes them all the more unique and appealing.
Products here range from simple wood birdhouses to dog toys, to full-sized dressers and delicately made wood carvings. Each item also has an emblem that states that the product is “Manufactured in the Maine State Prison”.
Giving Prisoners a Chance
The vibe of this store is quite different from your general handicraft store. The entire store is managed by prisoners. While many inmates in prisons across the United States work during their sentence, the work they do often goes unnoticed. This, however, isn’t the case with the Maine Prison, as this program makes sure the inmates are duly recognized for their work.
The program has created quite a place for itself in all the adult correctional facilities in Maine. In an email to The Echo, Ken Lindsey, who is the manager of the Maine Prison Industries, shared what makes this program and the store unique. He said that it is a challenge to run such a program in a high-risk maximum security facility. Since the inmates here are known for violence, they need to be extremely careful since a lot of tools are needed to do woodwork. He stated that they have more than 7000 tools that are checked on a daily basis to reduce the risk.
The popularity of the Programs
According to Lindsey, the program is quite popular among the inmates. As with every other job in the outside world, the inmates are required to first submit an application if they wish to be a part of the program. The Unit Management Team needs to approve the application for the inmate to be eligible to take up the program. The management also makes it mandatory for inmates who apply to the program to be taking counseling or anger management sessions along with completing their education. This helps them learn a skill and also complete their education.
This unique program takes place in the Maine State Prison in Warren and at a time there at least 140 inmates taking up the program. According to Lindsey, over 100 inmates work in the woodshop while others work in the Machine, Upholstery and Finishing Shop. The Maine State Prison Store also sells candles that are made by inmates at the women’s facility at the Maine Correctional Center.