An article from Nogales International Newspaper reported by Murphy Woodhouse called “Prison inmates do hard work in SC County” explains how vital inmate labor from the Arizona Department of Corrections is to the operation of Borderlands Food Bank. Read the full story here.
Many employees are required to wear uniforms to the office, but those worn by most of the workers at the Borderlands Food Bank warehouse in Nogales stand out: orange shirts tucked into orange pants, both stamped with the letters of the Arizona Department of Corrections.
Last Friday morning, the inmates from a low-security state prison in Tucson were hauling produce around on forklifts, breaking down cardboard boxes, sorting vegetables, entering data and even painting.
Yolanda Soto, the food bank’s director, said that her operation has used inmate labor from the ADOC for 18 of its 20 years. With just seven full-time employees locally, the dozen or so prisoners that come down for six hour shifts Tuesday through Friday represent more than half the workforce.
“They are the backbone of the food bank,” Soto said, adding that “the men have a large set of skills, the main one being muscle.”
The food bank is not alone in making use of such labor in the area. Santa Cruz County has two contracts with the ADOC, one dating back five years that was renewed this month by the County Board of Supervisors and another approved in February.