The Missouri Eastern Correctional Facility in Pacific will soon have a new vocational program — a sewing factory.
The program, part of Missouri Vocational Enterprises (MVE), is designed to help offenders develop skills they can channel into careers after they are released, according to Karen Pojmann, communications director for the Missouri Department of Corrections.
The sewing factory is currently based at the women’s prison in Vandalia but a staffing shortage and lower inmate population there forced the move to Pacific, according to Pojmann.
“The Missouri Eastern Correctional Facility will be better able to sustain the operation,” Pojmann said.
Offenders who participate in the sewing factory make uniforms, hospital scrubs, T-shirts, bed linens and other items for government agencies and nonprofit organizations.
MVE has programs at 12 different facilities across the state, according to Pojmann, who said there are about 1,500 offender-workers statewide who are taking part in MVE programs.
“(Offenders) work a regular eight-hour day at MVE jobs and earn a small wage, usually around 50 cents an hour,” Pojmann said. “Offenders also earn U.S. Department of Labor certifications while participating in these programs, which also helps them enter the job market.”
Pojmann said MVE is self-funded job training with the sale of goods and services provided to government agencies and nonprofits reinvested in the training program.
The Missouri Eastern Correctional Facility can house up to 1,100 offenders and currently holds 1,042, Pojmann said.
Other programs offered at the Pacific facility include Puppies for Parole, a rescue dog training program; parenting programs; and vocational classes in subjects such as horticulture and restaurant management.
The relocation of the sewing factory to the Pacific prison is currently underway, according to Pojmann, who gave no specific date for when it is expected to begin.