March 9, 2006 7:56 AM PST
Prisoners training in digital print
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booklet maker from Morgana--and a handful of PCs. The prisoners design the print materials--brochures, pamphlets, business cards--with Adobe Creative Suite software.
Most of the Standford Hill print center's work will be for the prison service, though it's possible that other government departments or outside businesses will contract work with it as well.
Xerox was chosen for its reputation as a trusted vendor within the prison service, as its equipment is used in the service's seven existing print centers. This made the procurement process easy and allows for the added benefit of simple networking between print centers.
"If we decide in the future we want to network machines between the print center sites, it's easier with Xerox because (their machines) speak to each other," HM Prison Service's Cook said.
Xerox will provide training to prison supervisors, who will in turn train the prisoners. The copier company will also offer certification to offenders, once they've acquired the necessary skills and, if possible, will interview offenders for job openings within Xerox after their release.
The Standford Hill digital print center employs two staff and nine prisoners. As production gets up to speed, prison staff hope to incorporate five additional inmates, who will be in training at all times.
One of the challenges in training prisoners is their different sentence lengths. It can take up to six months to fully train an individual on design and printing tasks, depending on how much previous IT knowledge they have, though inmates may be at Standford Hill for anything from a few days to a few years, with the average stay being nine weeks.
Attracting prisoners to the digital print center has not been a challenge, though, as they seem to recognize how useful digital print skills could be to them in future.
"The inmates we've worked with are very highly motivated and interested in what they're doing--it's not like pulling teeth," the BPIF's Exelby said.
Because the Standford Hill digital print center is so new, the ultimate goal--landing the prisoners jobs upon their release--has yet to be achieved. But with the possibility that some may attain Xerox certification and even be considered for positions within the copier giant, the chances look good.
The printing industry is conservative, "but the increase in awareness of corporate social responsibility means many more employers are interested in providing support for the community, and this is clearly a good way to do that," Exelby said.
Sylvia Carr of Silicon.com reported from London.
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