These Pros Are Cons
North Carolina Correction Enterprise Print Plant/Central Duplicating
Annual sales: $7 million
Full-time employees: 186
Jobs printed per year: 13,500
Robert Leon runs an extremely professional, profitable in-plant. Comprising a large offset operation and a separate duplicating facility, his in-plant generates $7 million in annual sales and employs 186 people.
But his operation is different from other in-plants in one key way: Nearly all of his employees are prison inmates.
Leon is director of printing at North Carolina Correction Enterprises. He oversees the offset print plant, located in Nashville, N.C., and a central duplicating center, in Raleigh. In its 60 years of existence, the in-plant has grown to become one of the country’s largest.
Unlike many other prison in-plants, though, this one does not get by with ancient second-hand equipment. It has some of the latest, top-of-the-line gear, including two brand new Kodak DigiSource 9110 digital printers. In fact, between both operations, Leon says the in-plant has spent about $2 million on equipment over the past two to three years.
“We’re receipt-supported, so we don’t have any money appropriated to us from the legislature,” Leon explains.
He even intends to expand. A new duplicating facility is planned for the winter of 2000, and Leon is trying to add a second shift in the print plant—a tough move in a prison, where inmates are on strict schedules. In the past five years, Leon says, the offset operation alone has grown from $2 million in annual sales to $4 million.
But how did a prison in-plant get to be so huge? Part of it, Leon explains, has to do with the great support he gets from the state.
“In this state, anything that we can do to put more inmates to work, most of the officials really want to see that happen,” he explains. “They just think the more inmates working the better.”