I have had the distinct pleasure of working for the Safety Services Company ACI contract here at the Yuma Complex. I have been employed since August 5, 2013 and during that time I have enjoyed working here and developed life skills to help me succeed upon my release. My job has kept me in contact with the general public (via telephone to companies throughout the country) as well as the civilian staff. Without the increased socialization, I believe I would have not have been as prepared to get back into the real world.
The use of inmate work crews is recorded as far back as 1908 when inmate labor built the Florence Prison.
Arizona Correctional Industries was created by the Arizona Legislature in 1969, operating under the acronym “ARCOR” (Arizona Correctional) until 1987, and received appropriated funds to support its operations. In 1987, ARCOR was renamed Arizona Correctional Industries (ACI). Four years later, in 1991, the funding was discontinued and ACI’s business enterprise became a financially self-sufficient division of the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC); operating entirely without taxpayer funding.
There are several critical areas that contribute to our growth and profitability: safety, social responsibility, inmate training, quality products and services, and strong financial performance, as well as the positive impact on the State of Arizona’s economy.
ACI continues to seek opportunities through Owned & Operated businesses and Private Sector Partnerships to provide labor and services to fill a void not being met by free-world labor or as an alternative to outsourcing labor to foreign countries.
The True Measure of Success
We use statistics and spreadsheets to track every aspect of our lives, thinking that our worth can be measured in dollars or where we rank on some imaginary ladder of success. But real success is not measured by data points, it is determined by how we feel inside when we ask ourselves questions like:
- “Am I good enough?”
- “Do I treat my friends and neighbors with respect and dignity?”
- “Do my actions contribute to the general good?”
- “How will I be remembered after I’m gone?”
We don’t need to be incarcerated to feel badly when we answer these questions. Most of us go through our lives never asking them at all. But we should; often. Every time we make an important decision, we should ask how it will impact our family, our friends, our neighbors, the planet, our own future. If we did there would be fewer bad decisions made.
But life goes by so fast and we are constantly being pulled in different directions. Sometimes we resist the pull long enough to make an informed choice. Sometimes we just follow the path of least resistance, without really considering the possible consequences. For the inmates we work with, the consequences for a poor decision they made were significant. The important thing is to ask, “If I had taken the time to think about it before I took that action that landed me here, would I have decided differently?” Because chances are, the answer is “Yes.” The very act of asking the question, brings to mind how they could have acted differently and the results been different. They can begin to write a new story for themselves.
That is why these letters are so important. They are the voices of the inmates who work with ACI. Their words, tell the true story of what life is all about. By making the decision to use their prison time to learn and work and grow, they have begun to hear different answers when they ask themselves those difficult questions above.
As you read their stories, you will hear the voices of people struggling to regain their self-esteem and to earn the respect of their families and friends, their supervisors and coworkers. For many, the work they are doing is the first time they have ever felt a part of any community. That is our goal here at ACI, to put them on a path to be successful citizens.
I would like to personally thank the contributors to this page for sharing their stories with us here. We are grateful that they have found their voices and have taken control of the narrative of their lives. And we are proud to be able to share their stories with you here.
Brian Radecki, CEO
Arizona Correctional Industries
I have been working for the Safety Services Company/ACI here at the Yuma Prison Complex. I have been employed since May 15, 2015 and during that time I have enjoyed working here and developed a lot of skills to help me succeed upon my release. My job has kept me out of the prison drama for almost my entire sentence and kept my mind focused in areas such as keeping tuned in with being a part of society as well as working with civilian staff. Without the ACI job, I believe I would have not been as prepared to get back into the real world.
I have been working for ACI-Safety Services for the past fifteen months. While it is not the easiest job and it has definitely proven to be “work”, I truly believe that my job has made me (and will continue to make me) a better man.
Waking up at 5 AM every day, getting dressed, eating, and then heading in for a hard days-worth of work has given me a purpose for my time here. I have a job that requires me to follow directions, be reliable, be dependable, and to converse with others. All of these are life skills that will benefit me in the future.
Working ACI has impacted my life in a very positive way. Not only enabling me to take care of myself while incarcerated but also puts me in a position to be able to be successful upon my release. It keeps me in touch with society by communicating with everyday people. It also keeps me focused on my own personal goals by giving me the opportunity to grow both financially and professionally. Also ACI keeps away from a lot of the nonsense associated with the prison life.
Thank you for this opportunity to work for Right Away Disposal. I have been here for one year, and the money I am saving will go a long way for my future once I am out of prison. I will use the money to prevent any chance of returning to this place (prison). I believe that any prisoner who meets the requirements for ACI employment should work at their full potential in order to provide themselves a better life.
I first heard about ACI while in county jail. Everybody that had previously been to prison all talked about ACI retention jobs. From that point forward I made up my mind that I was going to pursue that opportunity as soon as I had the chance. My chance finally came after stepping down to a minimum yard. My whole goal was to be able to save some money for when I get released so I am not so dependent on my family and friends, which will make it easier to transition back into society. An ACI retention job was the only path to achieve all the things I was searching for.
In order to tell you where I’m going, I must tell you where I’ve been. I’m forty-seven years old and have been in and out of jail and or prison for thirty years. As I write this I can’t even believe how much I have missed out on. Beside the pain I have gone through, I have hurt my family and friends like no other. When I came to prison this time I was a broken man in many ways. I needed to do something different in my life.
ACI has helped cultivate individual success along with confidence. In the various employment opportunities, ACI provides a structured work environment that prepares you for employment post-incarceration. Having proper employment skills and etiquette breeds a successful integration into employment on the outs.
What ACI has done for me…?
I have been able to take advantage of the ACI inmate work program for the last five years. Each of my ACI inmate work program jobs has been extremely different from one another. I started working with the ACI Print Shop in 2013 and learned new computer programs such as Epicor. I was able to learn the daily operations and what it takes to be a successful employee.
I have seven months to go, after being behind the fence for over twelve years. I wanted to let you know how my experience at Keefe Warehouse will help me after my release. I have worked most of my life at a variety of jobs, most requiring heavy responsibility. That being said, except for a year or so at the ACI Bakery, (2008-2009, which I considered a real job) I haven’t done much.
There are many positive things about working at Keefe while incarcerated. First would be the money that we make. Second would be the retention that we are building up gives us a chance to make it when we leave ADC- or to be financially responsible while incarcerated. We can use our retention to help our spouses and children at home with clothing, medical, utilities and bills. Third, it allows us to work as a team player with others that want to do good and better themselves.
Why ACI? It’s hard to believe, it has been seven years since I was locked up. Boy, a lot has changed, including my whole way of thinking and the way I feel about myself. I was a normal person with a nagging addiction. I raised two families and went to work at my own small construction company. I came to Arizona for a working vacation to install roofs, but my addiction and very bad choices landed me in prison for seven years flat.