Inmates build desks for new state building

South Bureau Chief Drew Mikkelsen reports.

The state’s crime fighters will soon be sitting at desks built by criminals.

Furniture at the new State Patrol headquarters on the Capitol campus was manufactured and assembled by state prison inmates.

“It’s awesome,” said convicted drug dealer Rudy Rodriguez. “Being out here in the community knowing we’re doing something for other people, it’s a good feeling.”

Rodriguez is one of 19 offenders assembling furniture at the building, known as "106 11th Avenue," since early September.

Several agencies, in addition to the state patrol, will start moving in Friday.

The inmates earn $2.10 an hour, can only participate if they have less than four years remaining on their sentences, don’t have a history of sexual crimes or escape and have good records while being locked up.

While the move saves state agencies money on furniture purchases and labor, the Department of Corrections said giving inmates opportunities to hold jobs during their incarceration reduces the likelihood they will re-offend.

Norm Solis, who is serving a five-year sentence for vehicular homicide, said the job experience will help him get a job when he’s released late this year.

He doesn’t want his family to have to visit him in prison anymore.

“I gotta step it up, steer my life in the right path,” said Solis.

© 2017 KING-TV


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