North Carolina Department of Correction news release

MONDAY, APRIL 20, 1998

NCCIW prisoners work in dental lab

RALEIGH - The polished teeth a female prisoner holds in her hand are the result of weeks of meticulous work in the dental lab at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women.

A dozen prisoners make dentures for other state prisoners after taking a one year course offered at the prison by Durham Technical College.

"This profession requires good manual dexterity," said Al Fuller of the prison dental lab. "The technician needs to know how the mouth functions. They have to make an appliance that works well and looks good."

The work is complex and requires a great deal of organization. A prisoner completes one phase of a job on a dental appliance and sends it to the dentist to check the fit with his patient. As the appliance moves from mold to final product, it will be sent to the dentist several times for fittings and comments to make sure it meets the patient’s needs.

They work independently and like being able to make decisions," said Brenda Lamm of the dental lab. "This gives them a lot of chances to use their own judgment. They must think it all the way through. If I do this, this will be the result. It helps them think ahead and learn consequences."

Once the prisoners begin working in the lab they can obtain apprenticeship certification

from the North Carolina Labor Department. The three year certification program requires the worker to meet strict standards and complete 6,000 hours of lab work.

"I take pride in my work. I like to know that once the patient has their appliance, they can eat. They can smile," said Pamela Poynter, one of the prisoners who has obtained her apprenticeship certification. "I don’t plan to be here always. The skills I get today will open up other avenues for me when I’m released. Before I wasn’t qualified to earn the kind of money I could now."

For now, Poynter and other prisoners working in the dental lab earn the prison system’s top wage, one dollar a day.



NEWS EDITORS: The dental lab will hold an open house 11 AM - 1 PM, Friday, May 29. To attend the open house or arrange a visit to the lab, contact Brenda Lamb at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh at (919) 733-4340.