November 24, 2013

Madison jail murals becoming postcard project

New jail industry hoped to support programs, some jail expenses.

By Doug Harlow
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

LOCAL POSTCARDS: Somerset County Jail inmate Leo Coutu adds color to one of 28 images from the Somerset Bicentennial quilt of area town landscapes on the walls at the Madison facility on Wednesday. Watching is Compliance Officer Sean Maguire. Plans are underway to transfer the scenes into postcards as part of a prison industry.

Staff photo by David Leaming

click image to enlarge

ARTFUL: Somerset County Jail officer Sean Maguire explains how 28 Somerset area town landmark paintings will be made into postcards as part of a prison industry project at the Madison facility.

Staff photo by David Leaming

The first hurdle in the jailhouse industry idea was cleared Wednesday when Somerset County commissioners voted unanimously to allow the manufacture and sale of postcards.

Commissioner Lynda Quinn, of Skowhegan, the board chairwoman, said at a previous meeting that the county owns the quilt images because they were donated during the bicentennial ceremonies three years ago, making it legal to use them in the postcards project.

The next step, Maguire said, is to provide advertising packets of postcards to interest county towns in purchasing them and to buy a printer for about $800 from federal Corrections Corporation of America grant money. The money would be paid back into the fund through future sales of postcards at about 50 cents per card, without postage, Maguire said.

He said the jail also will attempt direct sales to the public through the county website and selling the postcard wholesale to other county businesses.

At the Two Bridges Regional Jail industries program, inmates’ time and creative talents produce small items for sale starting at $5 and up, according to the jail website.

Birdhouses, whirligigs, cutting boards, planters, jigsaw puzzles, jewelry boxes, novelty mirrors, Adirondack chairs, ammunitions boxes, cradles and other items are for sale in the jail lobby. It is a self-sustaining program with profits used to buy more materials and to support community service programs, according to the website.

Inmates are paid a small wage for their work, with a percentage going toward fines, restitution and room and board.

The Penobscot County Jail also has an inmate industries program, in which signs are made for the state Department of Transportation, Maguire said.

The Maine Department of Corrections operates inmate industries programs at five of the state’s facilities for adults.

The Maine Correctional Center in South Windham employs about 50 inmates, both men and women, in its industries program, according to the Department of Corrections website.

The goal of the programs in the prison’s woodshop, garment making, re-upholstery, embroidery, license plates, wood harvesting, upholstery, and engraving activities is to provide products to the public and other agencies while keeping as many prisoners busy as possible, according to the website.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367 Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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