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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) -- Ten female state inmates housed at Purgatory Correctional Facility have new jobs sorting and packaging acrylic nail files.
Under a Washington County-backed agreement between Utah Correctional Industries and DHS Products of Cedar City, Purgatory will provide the site and security for the inmate work program. DHS supplies sheets of nail files. The files are punched out, stacked with quality control checks and then packaged into boxes at 1,500 nail files per box.
The inmates will receive $1 for each completed box of files. That is out of the company's payment of $5 per processed box. A victims' restitution program and UCI also get part of the money. UCI reimburses Purgatory $16.84 per hour for a deputy to watch over the program.
The inmates work two four-hour shifts, five days a week.
Michelle Fernandez, the DHS instructor for the inmates, is on parole herself.
"I know how important it is to do something besides just being cooped up all day," Fernandez said. "It gives you a boost."
The work began this week.
"We've been pushing for jobs to come in since April," prisoner Molly Sorenson said. "We're excited about having something to do."
Chief Deputy Mary Reep said she hopes the program goes well so that Purgatory can apply for federal certification to include county inmates and local businesses in an inmate work program.
"This gives them higher pay and a job link to an outside employer," Reep said. "This program can help them transition."
Dallas Stephens, owner of DHS Products Inc., had trouble finding dependable, qualified production workers in Cedar City and wanted to see if the inmate work program would help.
"The idea is that they could gain the experience and knowledge here and then come and work for us when they are released," Stephens said.
To employe inmates, DHS Products must meet certain requirements, including that the work not interfere with the private job market and taking care of all the tax withholdings and workers' compensation programs.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)