|Sylvie takes Action in our
In an effort to find “something different,” York County Jail (YCJ) purchased a computerized
embroidery machine to complement the monogramming machines recently donated by L.L.Bean.
In the past, they contracted with a vendor that used a Massachusetts jail program to monogram
their uniforms. Administrators liked the quality of work done, and looked into replicating this kind
This would allow them to have a supply of uniforms ready when needed, allowing for autonomy and
As with the greenhouse project, it was natural and logical to work with Massabesic Center for Adult
Learning (MCAL) to seek and hire a quality project facilitator. Barbara Gauvin, Director of MCAL,
recently hired Sylvie Lamontagne, owner and operator of Mountain Embroidery, to help with the
project. With a background in social work and ten years’ experience in embroidery, Sylvie is excited
about this different kind of venture. “I already have one trustee who is learning the machine. She is
learning very quickly!”
While Sylvie recognizes that many of the trustee inmates she will work with may not be with her long,
she understands the confidence boost it can provide. Captain Bean said there have already been
positive responses from inmates. They say, “It’s nice to have someone else to chat with other than
Inmates hear about these kinds of opportunities by
word of mouth or at the jail’s information kiosk, but
only the “trustees” – those already cleared or
screened to “work” can participate.
By working, an inmate who has been sentenced can
earn some time off his or her sentence.
With a 20-25% increase in inmate population, at a
cost of $100+ per inmate per day, projects like this
can significantly reduce operating costs.
Sylvie is very creative and resourceful; she is good
at maximizing dollars. YCJ can accept certain
donations from area businesses that may
be closing or restructuring, much like the donation
Contracting with outside agencies to provide monogramming services is not a lofty goal; they have
seen a similar model program at work, and it is common to try and reduce costs these days.
Captain Bean states, “As long as we know our inmates are active, involved, and engaged,
there will logically be a decrease in negative behaviors. Any project that provides a skill set
or a positive avenue that inmates can follow, we consider a success.”
|“Skills and Savings, One Stitch at a Time”
The embroidery project’s goals are two-fold. One
goal is to provide inmates with a skill set that is
transferable to a job once they return to the
community. Learning a new skill provides an inmate
the confidence that he or she can learn something
The other goal is for YCJ to reduce costs.
Normally, the monogramming of staff uniforms has
been contracted out to a vendor. The average cost
for a uniform is $150-$200, which does not include
monogramming. YCJ is moving from a traditional
style uniform to one that is more utility-like and
comfortable while still looking professional. As they
do so, they would like to cut the outside vendor
process, and do the monogramming in-house.
YCJ has already designed the logo for their
uniforms and thanks to Sylvie’s experience with
the machine, the logos and officers’ names are
already being placed on the uniform hats.
Administrative staff would like to see the project
expand to provide name tags for other
Captain Bean assures that YCJ is not looking
to put any small business out of business.
Knowing they can provide opportunities for
their inmates while reducing their budget costs,
is a strong case for support: “It is money better
spent when we can do it ourselves, and it
breaks up the routine for both inmates and
Parts of these images
have been blurred
for this presentation.
|Written by: Luba McDonough
Published by: Waterboro Reporter
Pictures by: Luba McDonough
|McDonough works with
Adult Education at Massabesic