The Maine State Prison Showroom

The name alone is pretty confusing – “Maine Prison Showroom?” And of course, we weren’t sure what to expect either. Our mind raced to try to imagine what could be in a prisoner’s showroom and all the old movie references popped in our heads – license plate art? Cigarette wrappers fashioned into bracelets or necklaces? Bird paintings made of smuggled commissary mustard?

But, as we walked through the door, all those old movie references faded as we saw a bounty of finished and unfinished wood items wholly produced by inmates housed in the Maine Prison system. The inventory was full of useful and mundane items like cutting boards and knickknacks, but we were most impressed by the intricately cut and artfully designed children toys, lamps, jewelry boxes and furniture. Each piece had in-laid wood designs and hand-carved sculptures that surely provide an amazing artistic outlet and mind-occupier for these confined me.

The place even had a sense of humor, offering stained-wood balls and chains for purchase as well as coffee mugs with “Stolen from the Main Prison System” printed on them.

As we checked out, we spoke briefly with the prison guard who rang up our items. We learned that this program is the oldest of its kind in the county, dating back over 100 years. Cooperative inmates who get into the program are paid get $1.85 to $3.25 per hour depending on their skill set to work in the shop. The industries program provides inmates with a means of learning valuable marketable job skills, work ethics and responsibility – all absolutely vital to transiting into the workforce upon release.

The busy showroom floor proves the quality and novelty go a long way, and profits from the sale of each item go directly toward upkeep of the machines and equipment.

And, while they can’t ship the items across state lines, a third party has contracted with the Prison to develop an online photo gallery where you can pick out what you want and they’ll walk in, buy it and ship it anywhere in the United States.

Get your prison products today! Order here.