Coming Full Circle

By Jan Hynson, Chief, Corporate Marketing
Unicor Federal Prison Industries


Most o…ffenders will one day be released from prison … becoming our neighbors. Take a look at just a few former federal o…ffenders who have done just that. Today, they are responsible, tax-paying citizens and family members within our communities. This is where Federal Prison Industries’ (FPI) lasting benefits come full circle. They positively impact our communities, reduce government spending, support America’s economy, and provide for the safety and security of our correctional facilities and the thousands of government employees who work in them.

Jonathan Queen

Jonathan Queen

Queen grew up as the son of a struggling single mother and sold drugs on the streets of Harrisburg, PA. By the time he was twenty-three, he was label-ed a career criminal and sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. He entered FCI Loretto, PA., owing fines, with no money, and little family support.

Throughout the various UNICOR operations in which he worked, he recalls being treated as a respected and responsible trainee. He learned to care about his work and the value of education. With a recently acquired GED, he became an inspiring mentor to fellow inmates, teaching GED courses, creative writing, as well as parenting and job skills classes throughout his incarceration. As a result of his combined UNICOR, education and inmate transition experiences, he amassed a winning resume of real life job skills, supported by a solid foundation of education and pro-social values.

Today, Jonathan Queen is happily married and lives with his wife and children in York, Pennsylvania. He is a college graduate, award winning author, minister, mentor and motivational speaker. He is the President and co-founder of New Mindz, LLC, and the creator of the “Start a Change Reaction” school assembly.

He also works as an assistant counselor for special needs adjudicated youth, as a parenting specialist at York County Prison, as Director of the Shiloh Baptist Church faith based “Boyz to Men” program,” as well as finds time to serve as lead facilitator in the “Successful Ex-Offender Mentoring Program (SEMP),” in partnership with Dauphin County Adult Probation and Parole.

In his book entitled “Are You S.A.N.E.” (Setting a New Example), Mr. Queen draws upon his life experiences to educate others about the power of change. He attributes much of his current success to his former UNICOR experience. Queen is a recipient of the City of Philadelphia’s Congressman Lucien Blackwell Community Light Award, in recognition of his community commitment, and the Crispus Attucks Rising Star (Striving to Achieve Remarkable Success) Award, for his efforts to help youth in the York, Pennsylvania area achieve their full potential.

The ripple effect of UNICOR’s life-changing program has influenced lives well beyond his
own. Queen’s outreach efforts have led others to believe in themselves, and for those who may be walking a narrow tightrope between “right and wrong,” his example of success inspires others, proving that “second chances” can lead to a bright future.

James Mays

James Mays

Follow his journey from convicted criminal serving a 10 ½ year sentence for armed robbery to a Lean Manufacturing Specialist for one of the world’s leading body armor companies.

June 15, 1999 was a memorable day as Mays was sent to the Federal Correctional Institution in Fairton, N.J. It was also his 21st birthday.

He learned about UNICOR at FCC Fairton and was hired to work in the electronics cable factory. The following year, Mays was transferred to the low security facility at FCI Coleman, FL., where he concentrated on his educa-tion, and served as a GED tutor to fellow inmates. In 2005, he was transferred to Yazoo City, MS., where he secured a job in UNICOR’s textiles operations as a programmable machine operator.

Mays joined that company as a Shipping and Assembly Supervisor in August 2007. Three
years later, he was promoted to Production Manager for the company’s commercial and
military manufacturing division.

Thanks to his efforts, production increased by 25% and on-time delivery soared from 40% to 98%. Today, Mays holds a new position of Lean Manufacturing Engineer, and was recognized as Employee of the Year.

The Vice President of Operations at the company that hired Mays summarized his accomplish-ments as follows: “Mr. Mays has had the greatest positive impact of any individual on factory operations that I’ve seen in 40 years. Our company is known throughout the world for our products and performance, but in the last two years we became the leader within the industry, and much of our success is because of James’ determination and hard work.”

Linda Martinez and Judy Balder, who were incarcerated at FCI Dublin, CA, worked at UNICOR’s Call Center operations.

Occasionally, former offenders touch base with institution staff… to let them know about their reentry transition. Their letters are often posted to inspire and encourage other offenders that life outside prison can be good.

Ms. Martinez was hired by a San Diego marketing firm prior to her release from prison! She sent resumes to prospective telemarketing firms and received guidance and encouragement from her UNICOR supervisors. Today, Ms. Martinez is also a full time college student studying to become a Medical Assistant.

Ms. Balder was also hired by the same firm for its Midwestern hub. She explained in a recent letter, “I am very grateful to walk out of prison after 21 years and have a job given to me. It is a blessing I do not take for granted.” She also added that there are people in her half way house who have not gotten jobs for months, and attributes her success to the job skills acquired in UNICOR, and to the FCI Dublin sta… who supervised and mentored her.

Donald Stanton was sentenced to 21.8 years in federal prison. Putting his time to productive use at FCI Englewood, CO, he became a drafting detailer and computer aided drafting trainer special -izing in metals and furniture design within UNICOR’s drafting operations. He shared that “UNICOR was instrumental in helping me get a real life. If UNICOR can be a significant, positive catalyst in cases like mine, it’s worth every struggle put forth.” Today, Mr. Stanton is employed as an industrial engineering technician in Pocatello, ID.

UNICOR’s FCI Englewood drafting operations have produced numerous success stories. A few examples follow.
• William Taylor owns a Landscape Design company and hires other former inmates for his landscaping crews
• Michael Fist is employed as a First Assistant in an Orlando, FL architectural firm
• Joseph Gallaway works as a Designer for a fixture furnishings company, whose clients include some of the most successful restaurant chains in America
• Anthony Smith works today, as a Draftsman and CAD Trainer for one of the largest architectural firms in the U.S., based in Salt Lake City, UT

It is all in a day’s work for business owner, Marshall Wingate. To date, he has hired five
former offenders from UNICOR’s cable factory operations at FCI Loretto, PA.

When he visited the UNICOR Loretto cable factory, Mr. Wingate was so impressed that he
advised the inmate workers to apply for jobs in his company upon release. Not only has he hired former offenders, but he has also helped them obtain housing, clothing and food.

Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (FPI), widely recognized by its trade name, UNICOR, is a unique corporation. We receive no appropriations for operations, create thousands of private sector jobs, reduce our nation’s criminal justice costs, improve public safety, and provide offenders, such as those you’ve met in this article, a “second chance,” through life and job skills training to become productive members of our communities upon release.

A productive life after prison can, and does, happen. UNICOR/Federal Prison Industries’
success as a self-sustaining government program remains a building block in the journey to reentry for thousands of men and women who are released into our communities every day.

*Note that in some cases the names of individuals may have been changed to protect the privacy interests of the offender.