Pennsylvania Correctional Industries, a program that puts inmates at 15 state prisons to work while they serve their sentences, employs more than 1,500 inmates statewide, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. At the maximum-security State Correctional Institution Huntingdon, which dates from 1889, three operations make the Big House brand of products. There is a print shop for making hundreds of forms for state agencies; a garment factory for making orange and gray jumpsuits and other clothing for inmates; and a soap factory for making many different types of bar soap, de-greasers, hand cleaners, laundry soap and other products. About 265 of the 2,100 inmates at the Huntingdon institution work in one of the in-house factories.
Tony Miller, who oversees the products made at all 15 prisons, says that more than 1,500 inmates work through PCI, or about 3 percent of the system’s 45,000 prisoners. The work program is designed to help inmates avoid returning to a life of crime by helping them find a practical job when they are released, he said. For the fiscal year that ended in June 2007, PCI made $34 million in gross sales and $1 million in profits, which is put back into PCI to buy new machines and equipment. Two prisons will open $2.5 million laundries next year. Inmate pay ranges from 19 cents to 42 cents per hour, depending on skill level.