Why it Matters: The effort to reduce recidivism

document scanning

What’s the best thing that can happen to an inmate when he or she leaves prison? To become a law-abiding citizen who does not face further incarceration. In support of Governor Herbert’s goal to reduce recidivism in the State of Utah, the Department of Corrections is working to provide additional training and work opportunities for inmates through its Division of Correctional Industries (UCI).

furniture shop

Currently, there are just over 7,000 inmates in Utah’s prison system. On average, it costs $28,000 a year to house one inmate. Of inmates released from prison, 66% return within three years. For inmates who have UCI work experience, 55% return to prison. Evidence-based studies show that, on average, correctional industries programs produce a significant reduction in recidivism.

To provide work for inmates, UCI operates 16 programs including construction, furniture, print shop, and signs. UCI employs 740 inmates or 21% of the 3,417 work-eligible inmates. “What good looks like” for UCI is to provide all eligible inmates the opportunity to work.


UCI, in cooperation with the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget and Novaces Inc., has applied operational excellence tools, a focused value stream analysis, and capacity planning to increase production capability in the furniture manufacturing process. After reviewing the flow of work, it was determined that the constraint or bottleneck in the process was furniture sanding. The capacity for that particular step in the furniture manufacturing process has been calculated at 80 units per day and work is now released into the process at no more than 80% of sanding capacity. This “choke and release of work” created a stabilized flow that resulted in:

  • the ability to track the production status of each piece of furniture
  • reliable completion dates are now available for the customer
  • furniture production capacity has doubled
  • sales for June 2014 were the highest ever at $523,248 as compared to $243,931 in June 2013 and $234,298 in June 2012
  • job opportunities for inmates have increased from 54 to a future projection of 75 to 80
  • a production baseline has been established that can be continuously improved

Kudos go to Rollin Cook, Department of Corrections Executive Director, for supporting the initiative and to the UCI team of Alan James, UCI Director; Mike Gray, Doug Schut, Dave Rose, Andy Iacona, Preston Gray and the work-eligible inmates for identifying the constraints and implementing the improvements.


If you found this blog entry interesting, please consider sharing it through your social network.