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Corrections, Labor and Workforce Development Collaborate on Prisoner Hire at Kenai Canneries

Kenai Canneries

As of Friday, July 1st, 21 inmates from Wildwood have been hired by two local canneries to help with their fish processing. Staff at Pacific Star Seafoods and Great Pacific Seafoods met with Deputy Commissioner Ron Taylor, Director of Institutions Bryan Brandenburg and Wildwood Superintendent Bob Hibpshman in May to discuss this pilot program. After much conversation, a strict internal review process and a tentative July work schedule, the cannery administrators hired every inmate that was referred for employment.

One cannery administrator from Pacific Star Seafoods stated that she was initially very apprehensive about hiring inmates from a prison. She said she has now changed her mind and would hire another inmate crew whenever we referred them. She said the inmates were very respectful, hardworking and SOBER. She said she would like to keep a few on through the fall to assist with construction projects related to the 2014 season. She said she was so glad she had changed her mind about the program, as it has really turned out well. Great Pacific Seafoods foreman Nick Barrie raved about his inmate employees and said he too would hire every one we referred to them. He said that they had been so desperate for employees that they recruited through the Los Angeles Job Center and spent $30,000 getting people up here; but unfortunately many had already quit and went back to California. Other staff also stopped and remarked how much they appreciated the inmate workers. Mr. Barrie said “reliable”, that is what they are and that is big with us. The inmates are working 12-16 hours per day and do get overtime. Many inmates that I have spoken to realize that they are the ambassadors for this new program and want to do well. They also realize that if they do well, offers of employment after incarceration are likely. Most inmates will be working through Mid-August with these two canneries.

— Assistant Superintendent Shannon McCloud