Harvey County, Ks., started sending its electronic recyclables to the federal Bureau of Prisons’ UNICOR prison industries program for a substantial savings to the county, says the Newton Kansan. This means old computers, printers monitors, and televisions can be recycled instead of ending up in landfill. Some of the recycled materials end up at the federal prison at Leavenworth, the site of a new electronics recycling facility that opened in June. The UNICOR program at Leavenworth also includes a textile factory employing 211 inmates.
The Leavenworth program is not at full capacity, but the UNICOR recycling program processed 32.5 million pounds of material last year. The electronics that can be reused are cleaned and repaired and sold or donated to non-profit organizations or schools. Materials that can't be reused are taken apart and broken down into their component parts, such as plastic, glass, aluminum, or copper. All information and data that may have been stored on the hard drive is erased. This is done by inmates, using a non-viewable screen so inmates are unable to see any of the information that is being erased from the hard drive. Prisoners who participate are 24 percent less likely to reoffend and 14 percent more likely to find meaningful employment on release.