Secure Corrections Facility Storage Extends to Tool Room for Jefferson City
For over 50 years, Missouri Vocational Enterprises (MVE) has been a program of the Division of the Offender Rehabilitative Services within the Missouri Department of Corrections. The goal of the vocational program is to create meaningful job training for incarcerated offenders by utilizing prisoner labor to create products and services, which are then sold at competitive prices to for- and not-for-profit businesses and organizations.
MVE creates goods for over 25 different industries and is located in 14 correctional institutions throughout the state of Missouri, but for them, the most important product they can produce is a successful offender who returns to society as “an asset rather than a burden.”
“Officers working in the Tool Room were nervous about not being able to see which tools were being checked out at a given time, and they also worried that the lack of organization would lead to lost tools—as any tool can potentially be a weapon.”
MVE’s headquarters is located at the Jefferson City Correctional Facility (JCCF) in Jefferson City, Missouri. The JCCF replaced the Missouri State Penitentiary, which was, before it closed, the oldest operating penal facility west of the Mississippi River. When the new facility was proposed, the staff knew it was an ideal time to take an inventory of all of the corrections facility storage and do things right from the beginning.
Several areas of storage improvement were identified, including the tool and supply storage for the building’s prison industries. The tools that the inmates were using to produce items such as chairs, file cabinets, metal products, flags, and other items were completely unorganized and stored in boxes or bins on stationary shelving units.
There was a system in place for inventory and identification, but not being able to visually identify the tools all at once was leading to breakdowns in that system. Officers working in the Tool Room were nervous about not being able to see which tools were being check out at a given time, and they also worried that the lack of organization would lead to lost tools—as any tool can potentially be a weapon, it was important that all tools were accounted for and inventoried on a daily or weekly basis, depending on the class of a particular tool. If a tool was lost, it could lead to a potential lockdown of the corrections facility—not to mention a waste of a fair amount of time and money if the tool had been in the Tool Room all along and simply couldn’t be located.
When Curt Rogers, a Senior Project Planner with Bradford Systems, the local Spacesaver authorized distributor near Jefferson City, met with JCCF staff and listened to the Tool Room and the other correctional facility storage concerns, he immediately had a solution in the form of mobile art racks with pegboard. The art racks had helped numerous museums over the years compact art collections in a smaller footprint and still provide full accessibility to their entire collection, so he knew it could provide the same visibility to all of the tools that Jefferson City’s Tool Room had in its inventory.
A simple handle on the end of each of the racks, combined with the rail at the system’s bottom, created an easy to move system for all of the Tool Room’s employees, and to keep the project within the facility’s costs, Rogers installed the art racks with a non-grouted rail system. With the rails not embedded into the concrete of the new facility, it ensured the system could be expanded or moved if possible, even if there was existing carpet or flooring in a particular space.
The pegboard was outfitted with heavy-duty hooks for hanging tools and saws as well as shovels and rakes, and when one or more items were checked out at any given time, a glance at the pegboard to scan for hooks with check-out tags served as a quick visual inventory. Tools that weren’t able to be adapted to the shadow boards because of weight and size, such as drills and additional power tools, were stored in a mechanical-assist high-density mobile storage system adjacent to the tool racks.
With the implementation of the art rack tool storage system, Jefferson City’s inventories and check out procedures improved. Now, when a prisoner requests a specific tool, the tool is retrieved off the tool rack by the Tool Room supervisor or an officer working in that department, and a tag is hung on the empty hook.
Thanks to the new corrections facility storage systems such as the tool room racks, less tools have gone missing, new and old tools are able to cycle in and out of the inventory as needed, and officers don’t waste valuable time and resources hunting for missing tools—leaving more time to supervise and instruct inmates on the proper use and care of those tools and ultimately, contribute to their rehabilitation.