They’re best known for making license plates and furniture, but state prison inmates are testing a new product line — toilet paper. Inmates already produce toiletry products like shampoo and body wash, making toilet tissue one more manufacturing skill they can eventually use on the outside.
Roger Baysden, director of Prison Industries, says Iowa inmates will be making their own T-P by the middle of next year. “Work is vital in prisons for inmate control,” Baysden says.
“We have been testing prison-manufactured toilet tissue for six months. It’s manufactured in a Missouri prison. Six months and we’ve had no complaints.” Iowa’s 9,000 offenders use a million rolls of toilet paper a year and if they start making it themselves, the state would save ten-cents a roll. Baysden says — that will add up.
“There is no manufacturers of toilet tissue in Iowa so we aren’t competing with any manufacturing company,” Baysden says. “It’s a $100,000 a year savings.” If all goes according to plan, inmates would begin making toilet paper by mid-2011, mostly likely in Fort Dodge or Mitchellville.
Initially, the commercial grade tissue will be used in Iowa’s nine state prisons, but the savings could be extended to other agencies, even the state capitol.