Maryland Correctional Enterprises CARES Program To Graduate Its 100TH Inmate
June 30th at 6 p.m. at Central Md. Correctional Facility in Sykesville

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Towson, MD (June 29, 2010)---Maryland Correctional Enterprises (MCE), one of the top prison industry groups in the nation, will graduate its 100th inmate from the innovative MCE CARES program Wednesday night, June 30, at 6 p.m. at the Central Maryland Correctional Facility (CMCF) in Sykesville.

CARES stands for Continuing Allocation of Re-Entry Services, and is a major MCE effort to ensure that inmates are prepared for work on the outside. CARES is offered to inmates who have worked for MCE for at least one year and are within two years of release. Participants work fulltime at the MCE laundry plant at CMCF and take evening classes on employment readiness. These classes help inmates with their decision-making, and with job referral tips such as how to connect with private employers who hire ex-offenders, and how to utilize the One Stop Career Centers. The goal of CARES is to make inmates more employable, and to give them a head start on employment before they return to society.

The program began with 18 inmates in July of 2008. The June 30th event brings MCE CARES’ total to 100 graduates. (Fourteen will graduate at this event.)

Maryland Correctional Enterprises is one of the top ten prison industries in the nation. It employs a record 2,000 inmates in an average month, and in FY ’09 approached $53 million in revenues. MCE has operations all across the state; its inmates make everything from license plates and uniforms to flags and signs. Its chief executive officer, Steve Shiloh, was recently awarded the highest national honor for a prison industry executive.

But recently, MCE has gone way beyond traditional products and services, giving inmates a chance to become involved in truly meaningful projects that benefit the environment and restore history under the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services’ Public Safety Works initiative. At Antietam National Battlefield, inmates have restored the Piper Orchard and planted more than 3,800 trees. MCE inmates have harvested, grown, and replanted shoreline-restoring bay grasses and made thousands of oyster spat cages to help replenish oysters in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries under the state-wide Smart, Green and Growing collaborative sustainability effort.

Studies have shown that offenders with at least one year of MCE employment are less than half as likely to recidivate as general population inmates. CARES extends the employability of these offenders through their final years in the correctional system, resulting in a smooth transition into the workforce upon release, hopefully even further reducing the recidivism rate.

Maryland Correctional Enterprises sells its products and services only to non-profits and government enterprises, not to private citizens. Its main mission is to teach inmates critical job skills and teach them to develop a strong work ethic. MCE operations include a meat plant (Hagerstown) whose inmates annually prepare 800 or more turkeys for the Bea Gaddy Thanksgiving dinner for the poor in Baltimore; furniture making and restoration plants; graphics and sign making; uniform and flag sewing operations, just to name a few.

Recently, MCE unveiled a web site allowing customers to order online at www.mce.md.gov