Impact Georgia Magazine July - Page 5


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A new technological addition at Dodge State Prison (SP) is changing the way their Georgia Correctional Industries (GCI) woodworking plant works. The facility has had the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine for a few months now. It takes a digital image and converts it into vectors so the machine can produce the engraving. The staff and offenders say it has made the process quicker and easier.

“Fourteen years ago, it was mostly using traditional furniture equipment like table saws, but we have larger machines now that are more complex and produce different things,” explained GCI Wood Plant Manager, Mike Rowland.

The GCI Wood Plant at Dodge SP creates wood furniture, file cabinets, picnic tables, and does engravings. Rowland says the requests for engravings are becoming more popular.

“We have requests for things like the state and Supreme Court seal. Recently we also built the Governor’s office and his staff all their furniture,” says Rowland.

Offender Steven Wallace says the wood plant does a lot more engraving now that they have the CNC machine.

“They were only doing some engraving before, but it was by hand. This machine cuts all the guess work out of the process,” explains Wallace.

He says he’s had experience with wood work before coming to prison, but Wallace says this machine gives other offenders a chance to learn a skill that could benefit them when they are released.

“It gives some people an opportunity to learn a trade, that way they will have something to benefit them back out on the streets,” says Wallace.

The offenders also get hands-on experience with top-of-the line engraving technology. The CNC machine creates a digital version of the product, sets the coordinates on the piece of wood, prints a job summary with details, and the wood creation comes to life.

Offender James Reese works in the Chair Department. He says he enjoys building different things each day.

“We do chairs, couches, love seats, beds, and bird houses. But my favorite thing to make is the rocking chairs,” says Reese.

He says is takes about seven hours of labor to create a wooden rocking chair from scratch. The rest of the time is used to ensure the wood shaping process and drying time are complete.

“Well from getting the wood, cutting it out, shaping it, and sanding it can take some time. Then we get to rock in it a little bit before we get it back there to get stained. It’s just fun building it and feeling accomplished in having put it together,” explains Reese.

Technology is changing the way we create our products and the Georgia Department of Corrections’ partnership with GCI, allows staff and offenders to be on the cutting edge of wood working methods, promoting efficiency and innovation.