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." (Read more vintage car stories.)