PrintEd Provides Hope For Jailhouse Printers --Michelson
John Phillips’ classroom training and, now, certification also help him to be a better employee within the prison’s print shop, which is run by West Virginia Correctional Industries. Paid less than $1 per hour, inmate employees provide sheetfed printing for state parks and various agencies. The printing class can do jobs for non-profits such as local churches, Boy Scout groups, etc., in order to provide live work for the students. The Correctional Industries shop houses a newer, highly automated, two-color Sakurai and some other presses, as well as a range of prepress and finishing gear.
“Inmates have to actually apply and interview for the (print shop) jobs,” explains instructor Eric Dye, who took charge of the prison’s graphic communications program in July 2007. “John was hired because of his skills and qualifications coming out of our PrintEd program. He’s proud that, even at 41, he is continuing his education and training. The momentum is beginning to build, and we will have more and more students working toward this achievement. They’re really motivated.” Donohew adds that a partnership with the West Virginia University Institute of Technology will also allow prisoners to take college-level classes, and even earn a two-year associate’s degree in printing.
In 2003, the Northern Regional Jail and Correctional Facility became the first PrintEd-accredited correctional facility in the state of West Virginia, and the institution continues to raise the bar on how prison career training programs can—and should—operate. Studies have shown that educational programs create a more positive prison environment and can lead to lower rates of recidivism.
That’s a win-win proposition.