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State prison inmates doing their part in Indiana's COVID-19 battle

Offenders turning out supplies needed by hospitals
Posted at 6:44 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 18:44:15-04

BUNKER HILL -- Behind the walls and fencing of the Miami Correctional Facility north of Kokomo, some important work is being done in the state's effort to supply hospitals and first-responders with the supplies they need in the COVID-19 battle.

Offenders at the sprawling state prison are making hand sanitizer, personal protection gowns, face masks and face shields. These are the supplies the state can't get enough of during the pandemic.

“I’m pleased to have the Department of Correction joining the ranks of Hoosier businesses, large and small, stepping forward in the fight against COVID-19. Production of these items will lessen the strain on the supply chain, leaving more of these products available for Hoosiers,” Governor Eric Holcomb said.

Indiana Correctional Industries is part of the Department of Correction. When it became apparent there would be a need for hand sanitizer, the offenders at Miami, who had been making prison uniforms retooled and began making sanitizer.

"Everybody has put a lot of work in this week and in the past few weeks since this crisis has come alive," said Shop Foreman Scott Stoner. "We have all pitched in and done our part and have tried to come up with ways to help. Most of the guys that work here have never had a job a day in their lives, so the skills they learn are the skills the learn once they get a job here."

Besides sanitizer, two production lines have been set up at the prison to produce protection gowns and masks, 200 of each per day.

"We're all pleased to do it to help our communities out and hospitals and first-responders as much as we possibly can," said Wesley, one of the workers. 'We've done things wrong in our lives, but we're still trying to give back to the community."

The Department of Correction plans to repurpose another production line at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility to expand the production of protective equipment.