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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 8/22/2005 9:56:54 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/22/2005 10:28:34 AM EDT by warlord]
Victorville is a small town about 100 miles north of Los Angeles in the Mojave Desert. The US Army's Ft Irwin NTC & the Marine Corp Supply Depot which is the largest west of the Mississippi is about 30 miles further north.
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Helping war effort while doing time

By LEROY STANDISH

Staff Writer

VICTORVILLE -- In a 50,000-square-foot factory in Victorville, hundreds of workers busy themselves rebuilding weathered, worn and battle-busted Humvees.

The workers diligently apply their skills on the repair shop floor, abuzz with activity.

"We take a lot of pride in it," said Jerry Arnold as he took a break from re-tooling a Humvee's suspension.

But Arnold isn't working at a 9-to-5 job. He's a prisoner at the Federal Correctional

Institute across from the former George Air Force Base.

Arnold is just one of more than 300 inmates who work here. The prisoners not only do the work in the trenches -- replacing bearings, ball joints and transmissions -- but they also work in accounting and supply and management.

"It makes a lot of us think we are not paying a price for what we did, we are helping the war effort. It's something we all like doing," Arnold said.

Since 2001 the Department of Defense has contracted these medium security inmates to rebuild transmissions, refurbish suspensions, redo interiors and get old Humvees running like new again.

The program is part of the Federal Prison Industries, or UNICOR. Nationwide the federal prison system has 102 factories with 19,337 inmate workers. It had net sales of $803 million in 2004. The program produces more than 80 products and services solely for the federal government such as office furniture, clothing, industrial products and vehicle repairs like those done at the FCI in Victorville.

It costs the DoD between $20,000 to $40,000 to repair each Humvee. Compare that to a new one that ranges between $60,000 to $120,000, said Robert Werlinger, associate warden.

"We are actually making a difference in the war effort, giving a soldier a vehicle that if he has to get out of a hot spot in a hurry he has a vehicle that measures up," said Mike Blewett, a quality assurance and document control clerk in the factory. "It's nice to know we are making a difference in that area."

There is a waiting list of inmates wanting to work here. "It's one of the better paying jobs," Werlinger said.

Prisoners earn between 23 cents and $1.15 an hour turning out almost 30 rebuilt Humvees a month. When they arrive, the Humvees are inspected by prison staff for bullets and other contraband.

"We don't send them in until we inspect it thoroughly," Werlinger said.

If staff happens to miss a bullet and a prisoner finds it, he or she can turn it in for a reward of between $10 and $50, depending on the caliber.

Once inspected they are delivered to the women's minimum security camp to begin a 35-day trip through the factory. Sixty women work in the receiving facility. Some participate in the breakdown of vehicles -- removing the engine, which is shipped to Beaumont, Texas to be rebuilt, and removing and sanding down the Humvee's aluminum skin. Others in the warehouse oversee shipping and receiving of parts and supplies.

Some of the vehicles are simply sanded down and sent out to a shop in Hesperia for painting. Most others are transported over to the men's facility at FCI 1.

"They come in here pretty messed up," electrical/electronics specialist and inmate, Anthony Hicks, said. "You see vehicles with bullet holes in them. Some with holes bigger than bullets -- you wonder what hit them."

From 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, inmates work on the vehicles. Many of the parts they use -- those they cannot make themselves -- are purchased from the local area, Werlinger said. "About 78 percent of my parts are bought locally," he said.

As each vehicle rolls through the plant, meticulous records are kept allowing the end-user to find out who did what and when to the vehicle. After being rebuilt the vehicles are given a 50-mile road test through the desert near the prison.

And as a last level of quality assurance, the FCI stands behind its work with a one-year warranty.

Besides the Humvees, inmates rebuild military forklifts and trailers. The inmates -- most of whom are in prison for drug-related offenses -- are also afforded the opportunity to learn mechanics, electrical wiring and basic business skills. Instructors from the Victor Valley College teach inmates Automotive Service Excellence mechanical courses.

"I think that if I didn't have the education it would be hard (when released from prison)," Hicks said. "Given the opportunity, I feel a lot of us will be productive citizens out there."
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 10:01:42 AM EDT
sounds like a great use of government resources (for once).
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 10:11:23 AM EDT
Well now, that's a hell of a program!
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 10:12:12 AM EDT
They might be ciminals but their still Patriotic. McM
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 10:17:08 AM EDT
Wow the .gov does do some good things.
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 10:20:15 AM EDT
Better than having ILLEGALS doing it.
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 10:22:07 AM EDT
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 10:32:20 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/22/2005 10:35:24 AM EDT by FightingHellfish]
Warlord posted:

"Victorville is a small town about 100 miles north of Los Angeles in the Mojave Desert. The US Army's Ft Irwin NTC & the Marine Corp Supply Depot is about 30 miles further north."


I wish Fort Irwin was 30 miles from Victorville. Irwin's gate is 30 miles from Barstow, and the garrison area is seven more miles from the gate, Victorville is considerably farther past Barstow.

Not that Victimville is great, but Barstow redefines "shithole" in away that is hard to comprehend. Think of a small decaying Route 66 town in a hellish desert, populated by tattoed tweakers, angry Mexicans, ex-cons and retired circus freaks. There isn't a business in town that doesn't have visible repairs that were done with duct tape.

It's in southern California, and the average home cost is $85k. That should tell you the whole story.

Link Posted: 8/22/2005 2:01:03 PM EDT
plus this gives them skills for when they get out, so hopefully they get jobs and not commit more crime
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 2:02:13 PM EDT
Nice to see SOMETHING the .gov does working well....
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 2:05:27 PM EDT

Originally Posted By motorcityman:
They might be ciminals but their still Patriotic. McM



You know the liberals are truly bad when you feel more respect for prison inmates than you do them. LOL. An in this case, that's certainly how I feel.
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 2:06:55 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/23/2005 9:19:12 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/23/2005 9:20:48 AM EDT by warlord]

Originally Posted By FightingHellfish:
Warlord posted:

"Victorville is a small town about 100 miles north of Los Angeles in the Mojave Desert. The US Army's Ft Irwin NTC & the Marine Corp Supply Depot is about 30 miles further north."


I wish Fort Irwin was 30 miles from Victorville. Irwin's gate is 30 miles from Barstow, and the garrison area is seven more miles from the gate, Victorville is considerably farther past Barstow.

Not that Victimville is great, but Barstow redefines "shithole" in away that is hard to comprehend. Think of a small decaying Route 66 town in a hellish desert, populated by tattoed tweakers, angry Mexicans, ex-cons and retired circus freaks. There isn't a business in town that doesn't have visible repairs that were done with duct tape.

It's in southern California, and the average home cost is $85k. That should tell you the whole story.


Never said that Ft Irvwin NTC & the Marine Corp Supply Depot was in the middle of French Riveria. These two places are there for a reason. The NTC is there because the area is real sparse in terms of people. The chances for encourchment by the civilians is pretty limited. Also there are not many places left in the USA where you can aim a 120mm cannon at max elevation and not hit anything.

This place is close to approximating the desert conditions of Iraq in the USA.

Conversely, for the Marine Corp Supply Depot, there are civilian business that come almost to the front gates of the place. Years ago, you didn't see that. The desert environment is so dry, there is zero chance for rust. And of course the property values are pretty cheap.

The Humvee repair facility is ideally situated because they are only a few hours away from both the NTC, the Marine Corp Supply Depot, Camp Pendleton, and the Los Angeles area.
Link Posted: 8/23/2005 10:04:39 AM EDT
Sounds like a good program.

IIRC the largest egg farm(?) in southern California is a Jail, and inmates used to make license plates in some states. In Michigan inmates groom snowmobile trails in the UP.
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