Vegas Prisoners Restore Classic Cars

It's an 'amazing' program, says one inmate
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2011 2:53 PM CDT
A prison near Las Vegas restores classic cars like this one.   (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)

(Newser) – When it comes to behind-bars occupations, it’s not all license-plate-making anymore: At the Southern Desert Correctional Center, near Las Vegas, some 33 medium-security inmates show up Monday through Friday to restore vintage cars. "We've got a '56 Jaguar, a '48 Rolls Royce, and a Studebaker pickup," one inmate tells the Wall Street Journal. Customers bring their battered cars to the prison, where inmates return them to their former glory for up to $5.15 an hour.

Some prisoners don’t get to pocket all that money: Those who must compensate their victims pay 5% of their wages into a restitution fund. And not all prisoners can work at the auto shop; they must have a high school diploma or equivalent and no disciplinary infractions for six months. One potential downfall for customers: "You realize right away you're not the priority," says one. "It's a prison. Those prisoners may get locked down and not see your car for weeks."

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