Behind Bars and Gaining New Skills Before Thanksgiving

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HAGERSTOWN, Md. - Working in the Maryland Correctional Enterprises Meat Plant is one of most competitive jobs an inmate can get.

“There's a long waiting list to get into the meat plant and you know everybody wants in the meat plant because they want to learn a skill,” said Dan Henson, Meat Production Supervisor.

The Hagerstown plant employs 77 inmates and produces more a million pounds of meat annually.

But it also gives inmates practical skills in the meat business from production to marketing.

“If you've been in here for a long time now the outside world is totally different,” said Henson. “So now you're giving them the opportunity to get out and have a skilled trade and be able to get a job that a lot of people can get you know so it's a golden opportunity for them.”

And for inmates like Tyrone Arrington, working here at the meat plant is more than just a job, it's an opportunity to have a second chance at life once he lives the facility.

“I changed a lot, I learned how to work on my anger issues,” said Tyrone Arrington, inmate working in the meat plant. “You know I’m dealing with a good group of guys so if I ever get out of line, you know they'll pull me back or whatever. I learned this ain’t the place the be, I’d rather be home.”

Some inmates say they're learning something new so they don't repeat the past.

“Well if you don’t learn something new then you're going to repeat what you already know and obviously that led me to being here,” said James Bowie, inmate working in the meat plant. “So anything new that I can learn that may help me change my future to make it different from the past is always a good things.”

And for inmates working here, they can also earn a state license in meat cutting that could help them gain employment in society. 

All the meat produced at the correctional facility is sold to non profits and government agencies.