June 16, 2008
PRISON INDUSTRIES AND PRISON FARM
By: Christopher Reinhart, Senior Attorney
You asked for information on prison industries and why the prison farm was discontinued.
According to the Department of Correction (DOC), Correctional Enterprises of Connecticut employs an average of 350 inmates daily in industry programs in four correctional institutions: Cheshire, MacDougall-Walker, Osborn, and York. Average annual revenue generated by Correctional Enterprises is $6.5 to $7.5 million.
Correctional Enterprises provides goods and services to state agencies, municipalities, and nonprofit organizations while offering inmates an opportunity to develop vocational and occupational skills. The work settings replicate private industry to offer inmates a realistic work experience stressing the same types of performance standards and accountability that apply to workers in the community. The programs are designed to be self-supporting by generating revenue from sales to meet operating costs (DOC 2007 Annual Report).
Correctional Enterprises' products and services include license plates for the Department of Motor Vehicles, signs, plastic bags, silk screen printing, plaques, clothing, embroidery, printing, mattresses and pillows, sewing, metal fabrication, furniture re-upholstery and refinishing, ergonomic seating, wheelchair repair, dental and optical products, and data entry and processing. A copy of a Correctional Enterprises brochure is attached.
DOC began phasing out prison farms in the 1970s. The reasons for doing so included complaints from families that inmates were not being taught skills, equipment costs, and complaints from farmers who lost business to prison farms. OLR Report 2008-R-0081 discusses why DOC phased our prison farms and includes information on prison farms in other states. A copy of that report is attached.