JULY 30, 1996
RALEIGH - Inmates in a prison upholstery class are about to stand in front of a judge again. The inmates haven't done anything wrong this time. In fact, they've done something right. These inmates, assigned to the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women, have spent the last six months getting ready for the judges, hammering, measuring, cutting, sewing and covering. Now, upholstery judges will determine which inmates have done the best work. It's part of the eighth annual Parade of Rooms upholstery competition. Judging begins at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 2. The presentation of awards is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.
"The upholstery program is an important step for inmates who want to turn their lives around," said Correction Secretary Franklin Freeman. "Inmates who complete the program have higher self-esteem, are ready to work, and are not as likely to return to prison."
Staff from Wake Technical Community College teach student teams to design and decorate rooms of furniture. The inmates take old, donated chairs, couches and other furniture and strip each piece to the frame. The legs are stained and the furniture is rebuilt from the legs up. Inmates are taught how to cut a cushion out of foam rubber, and how to use batting to cover the frame. Next, they put on the outer covering and a skirt around the bottom of chairs and couches. The upholstered furniture is donated to charity.
"They've done a real good job," said Robin Moore, educational director at NCCIW. "Once inmates see that they can produce quality work, they understand that they have marketable skills which they can use when released from prison." One former inmate who completed the program has opened her own upholstery shop.
Note: Media needing more information or wishing to cover the Parade of Rooms should contact Robin Moore or Luther Thomas at NCCIW. The phone number is 733-4340, ext. 240 or 241.