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Maryland Correctional Enterprises Offers Vehicle Wrap Service

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February 21, 2012 - One of the newer and more visually impressive services offered by one of the nation’s top prison industry groups is now in evidence on highways all over central Maryland: “wrapped” vehicles.

Since 2009, inmates at Maryland Correctional Enterprises’ (MCE) Patuxent Institution sign plant in Jessup have wrapped nearly 30 vehicles, from Howard County Sheriff’s Department cruisers to a fleet of Carroll County transit buses.

Hot off the graphic press this month: a new “ZooMobile” van for the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

The effort begins on a computer screen, as inmates trained in graphic arts design the vehicle wrap and calculate the measurements according to each vehicle’s specific dimensions, door handle shapes and locations, etc. The concept then becomes a reality as other inmates cut the material and do the actual wrapping. The process usually takes just a few days, with larger vehicles of course taking a bit longer.

“These vehicles look great,” says Sign Plant Manager Chuck Behnke. “There’s a lot of thought that goes into these vehicles. You have to be fairly good at math and graphics, and you have to work as a team.”

Behnke says men who get out of prison should be able to get jobs in the still specialized field of vehicle wrapping.

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Maryland Correctional Enterprises exists to give inmates a work ethic and special skills they can use upon leaving prison. MCE is self-supporting and employs nearly 2,000 inmates in operations from Cumberland to the lower Eastern Shore. Its operations include everything from meat to furniture, flags and uniforms to graphic design, and environmental programs like bay grass planting and oyster repopulation. MCE’s annual sales are in the neighborhood of $50 million, and the operation is in the top ten in America for both number of inmates employed and sales. MCE sells only to government agencies and non-profits and does not aim to compete with small businesses.

MCE is invaluable in that it provides jobs for both long-term inmates behind the fence (reducing idleness) and minimum and pre-release level inmates in the community. A number of former MCE inmates have “graduated” to fulltime MCE jobs upon their release from prison.

For more information, visit www.mce.md.gov.