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Hardwood flooring factory scheme helps rehabilitate prison inmates

Flooring manufacturer Finkell has established six hardwood flooring factories inside USA prisons. This program has been designed to help prisoners rehabilitate.

To qualify to work in one of the factories, prisoners must have a record of perfect behaviour over at least a six month period, and go through a strict assessment process. Working in one of the factories is regarded as a privilege. Around 200 people are employed in the factories, and there is a waiting list of 1,000 who want to be employed by the scheme.

The benefit to Finkell is having workers who will remain in employment for several years and who they can train in highly skilled work, such as handcrafting hardwood. Finkell factories outside of prisons take an average of 60 days to train employees and have a high staff turnover. Finkell can offer specialised handcrafted floor coverings made in prisons, rather than mass produced flooring constructed by automated machines.

The prison workers are given a small wage which, combined with the ability to make quality flooring products, raises their self-esteem. Around 68% of prisoners re-offend after they are released. This is down to 7% amongst the workers in the Finkell factories, with the company often employing workers in its other factories after they have been released.

Natural solid wood flooring in Wirral homes looks beautiful and is hard-wearing. Most wood flooring in the UK is not made by prisoners, but if the USA scheme is replicated in the UK, installing wood flooring could help prisoners rehabilitate to become responsible members of society.

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