A private-public venture that puts Iowa prison inmates to work building modular homes held an “open house” in Newton today at its first completed home. The modest ranch is the premiere home of Avalon Industries, built by specially-trained inmates at the Newton Correctional Facility. Avalon president Gene Russell says the goal is to produce 100 homes a year to sell to moderate-income Iowans. The homes are hammered together in the prison factory, boxed, then trucked away and set on the foundation by contractors. Russell says the current team of 15 inmates is eager to work and Iowans need affordable, durable homes. He calls this a win-win situation for everyone involved.Inmates keep 20-percent of what they earn. After taxes, child support is paid to, currently, nine Iowa children. Of the rest, 20-percent goes to restitution, five-percent to victim’s compensation and the rest goes into the Iowa General Fund to reimburse the state for inmates’ room and board.
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