Programs for jail and prison inmates operate across the country, from community-service projects in Washington County, Oregon, to 16 different prison dog-training programs in the state of Florida. In the Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset, Maine, inmates grow produce for food pantries and make wooden toys for children's Christmas gifts as of 2015.
In Washington County, some inmates avoid jail by reporting on weekends to serve out their sentences. They clear undergrowth and brush; paint and make minor repairs to schools, park buildings and granges; or clear and repair damage to cemeteries. Other jail inmates work in county parks and the fairgrounds.
In Texas, two computer repair labs employ inmates. The state's factory system produces clothing, street signs, mattresses for state college dormitories and soap for scrubbing jailhouse floors. Workers also refurbish public school buses, retread tires, build furniture and craft shoes. In Utah, prisoners make audio books for the visually impaired.
In federal prisons, inmates must work if they are physically able. Assignments include food service or warehouse work, or working as an orderly, plumber or painter.
Inmates benefit from these programs by becoming more self-sufficient, gaining meaningful work experience and income and avoiding idleness. Prison officials also believe that work reduces tension and prisoner misconduct.