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Kentucky Jail Prisoners Make Mattresses

Kentucky Jail Prisoners Make Mattresses

by David Reutter

The Daviess County Detention Center (DCDC) in Western Kentucky has a program that uses prisoners to manufacture mattresses. The program is expected to save the 700-bed facility $10,000 a year and provide a service to the local community.

Previously, DCDC purchased around 200 mattresses annually due to damage or wear and tear, costing the jail about $100 each. Jailer David W. Osborne learned that a facility in Sevier County, Tennessee was making its own mattresses, so he sent a deputy to investigate.

“When I first learned of this, I thought, ‘we’ll need a big, old building,’” said Osborne. It turned out that two prisoners and a single commercial sewing machine can make up to 20 mattresses in an eight-hour shift. “It’s fairly simple,” he said. “We bought a used sewing machine.”

The mattresses made by the prisoners are sturdier because the covers are vinyl, which is more durable. “We can do this for $50 [per mattress],” said Osborne. “They are much more comfortable than the ones we were buying.”

As the mattress-making work is considered community service, prisoners receive pay of $.63 per day for an eight-hour shift and have one day cut from their sentence for every 40 hours worked.

DCDC is considering expanding the program by making and selling mattresses at cost to places such as homeless shelters. Osborne also touted the benefits for the prisoner workers, in terms of “skills training and work ethic development.”




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