Jobs available to inmates in the US, should the UK also do the same?
You’ve probably heard about prison labor, but do you know what kind of jobs are available to inmates in the United States? You may be surprised to learn that it varies from typical maintenance work to more unexpected roles. Let’s delve into some of the most common jobs held by US inmates and consider whether implementing similar programs in the UK could lead to positive outcomes.
Custodial work is one of the most common job roles for inmates in the United States. This entails maintaining the cleanliness and orderliness of the prison premises. The officials over at USP Atwater in California can explain how most of the inmates are assigned to daily cleaning tasks that involve sweeping and mopping floors, dusting furniture, and sanitizing common areas like cafeterias or bathrooms. Some inmates might be tasked with more specialized jobs such as waste management and recycling work within the facility.
This also includes handling laundry services, and ensuring all inmates have clean bedding and uniforms. In some cases, custodial work can also extend to maintaining the facility’s outdoor areas, which can involve landscaping tasks like mowing lawns, trimming hedges, or even tending to prison gardens. These custodial roles are not only pivotal in keeping the facility clean and safe, but they also provide inmates with practical skills that can be useful for employment after their release.
Food service and kitchen work
Food service and kitchen work represent other common jobs among US inmates. Inmates involved in these roles handle a broad range of duties, from meal prep to cleanup. They might prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the entire prison population under the supervision of trained staff, learning valuable culinary skills in the process. Tasks can include chopping vegetables, cooking meals, baking bread, and even meal planning within dietary guidelines.
In addition to cooking, inmates may also be tasked with serving meals and maintaining the cleanliness of the kitchen and dining areas. This job not only equips inmates with practical, transferrable skills for post-incarceration job opportunities in the food industry but also contributes to the smooth running of the prison facility daily.
Groundskeeping and maintenance
There are various groundskeeping and maintenance jobs inmates can do while in prison. Here are some of them:
- Lawn care
- Weed control
- Tree maintenance
- Snow removal
- Pest control
- Fence repair and maintenance
- Equipment operation and maintenance
- General repairs and maintenance
- Trash and debris removal
- Sports field maintenance
Groundskeeping and maintenance work for inmates in the US entails a variety of tasks aimed at maintaining the aesthetics and safety of the prison environment. This includes lawn care, landscaping, and weed control to keep the outdoor spaces neat and orderly. Inmates also undertake tree maintenance and snow removal during different seasons.
Pest control is crucial for health standards, while fence repair ensures the secure perimeter of the facility. They’re also responsible for operating and maintaining equipment, general repairs, trash removal, and maintaining sports fields. This hands-on work equips inmates with practical skills that may boost their employability post-incarceration.
Janitorial and cleaning services
Janitorial and cleaning services are an integral part of prison labor in the US. This job involves maintaining cleanliness within the facility by undertaking a variety of tasks. Inmates may perform general cleaning duties such as sweeping, mopping, dusting, and trash removal in communal areas, cells, offices, and hallways.
They also sanitize high-touch surfaces to prevent disease spread. These services extend to specialized cleaning tasks, such as floor waxing, window washing, and deep-cleaning bathrooms and kitchens. Furthermore, inmates might be tasked with managing and distributing cleaning supplies. This role not only instills a sense of discipline and responsibility but also imparts practical skills that could aid in securing custodial jobs upon release.
Manufacturing and production
There are also various manufacturing and production jobs people can do when incarcerated. These could be the following:
- Woodworking and carpentry
- Textile and sewing work
- Print shop operations
- Assembly line work
- Electronic assembly and repair
- Furniture refurbishing
- Braille transcription
- Construction and masonry
- Bicycle repair
- Sign-making and engraving
These jobs encompass a broad spectrum, including woodworking, metalworking, and textile work. Inmates may be involved in print shop operations, assembly line work, electronics assembly, and furniture refurbishing.
They can also gain specialized skills in areas like Braille transcription, bookbinding, craftsmanship, construction, masonry, and even bicycle repair. These roles not only provide a productive outlet for inmates but also equip them with practical skills and work experience that could enhance their prospects for employment and societal reintegration post-release.
In the realm of library services, inmates take on roles such as library attendants or even librarians under supervision. They help maintain order and organization in the prison library by shelving books, managing the library desk, and assisting fellow inmates in finding reading materials. Some may also assist in cataloging new arrivals and maintaining the library’s database.
More than just a job, these roles offer inmates a chance to build their knowledge and develop new skills, fostering literacy and a love for learning. This experience can be valuable after release, as the inmates have gained practical skills applicable to library or clerical work.
Should the UK adopt the same system?
Considering the variety of jobs available to inmates in the US, it seems beneficial for the UK to adopt a similar system. These job programs instill discipline, and responsibility, and provide practical skills, preparing inmates for a smoother societal reintegration post-incarceration. Particularly, roles in food service, maintenance, janitorial services, manufacturing, and library services can provide direct job experience and transferable skills highly applicable to employment opportunities post-release.
Moreover, such programs can help alleviate the stigma associated with former inmates, showing they can be productive and contributing members of society. However, it’s essential to maintain fair practices, ensuring that inmates are not exploited but rather, given opportunities for growth, learning, and rehabilitation. Therefore, while adopting a similar system can be advantageous, it’s crucial to tailor the approach to align with the UK’s legal framework, societal norms, and rehabilitation goals.
In summary, it’s clear that prison labor programs can offer more than just busy work. They provide valuable skills and experiences that can help you reenter society with confidence and purpose. From custodial tasks to manufacturing jobs, these roles equip you with a wide range of competencies. Let’s reconsider how we view prison labor and recognize its potential to contribute to an individual’s rehabilitation and successful reintegration.