At Women's Prison, a Vision for Success
Laurie Mason Schroeder, The Morning Call
"Ashley" is an inmate at Cambridge Springs state prison near Erie, Pennsylvania. The 35-year-old spends most of her day in a state-of-the-art optical lab, working alongside 20 other highly trained women who make all types of glasses. At night, when she's locked up, Ashley writes letters to her five children.
Inmates at the correctional facility make more than 15,000 pairs of eyeglasses a year, and a position in the optical lab is a coveted job requiring months of study. Prisoners who make the grade leave prison with the skills they need to start a career.
While women in other correctional facilities find their job training choices limited to so-called “pink collar” jobs such as cosmetology and clerical, prisoners at Cambridge Springs can become certified opticians—a career with a median income of around $35,000 and a less than 2 percent unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.