The Canteen program is self-sustaining, receives no taxpayer support, and provides employment opportunities for Inmates. Eligible Inmates can select from a wide range of more than 1,100 retail items, including ready to eat foods, snacks, hygiene products, cosmetics, clothing, hobby and religious supplies. The 80+ Inmates who support Canteen operations process over 65,000 orders per month and profits from these orders help to fund Inmate educational, recreational and social activities, as well as supplementing other direct Inmate needs (which includes providing satellite television and music services). Inmate employment with Canteen is designed to teach Inmates relevant, marketable, transferable skills such as inventory management, warehousing, production, order-fulfillment, customer service and forklift certification. Canteen Services also administers the CIPS Colorado Inmate Phone System (CIPS), providing the telephone system for entire CDOC Inmate population. Finally, Canteen Services oversees both video visitation and the electronic tablet program, affording Inmates with another avenue of connection to family, friends and the communities they will return to one day. These services have become even more important due to challenges related to COVID.
You may access the DOC Canteen webpage at http://www.doccanteen.com/.
As with all of its programs, CCI strives to create a working environment in its many different industries that mirrors companies in the community. To this end, they are always looking for ways to innovate and create real world job skills, benefits, and opportunities. One area that CCI has identified as a priority is to look for ways to create a new type of Inmate pay plan that would not only provide increased opportunities for earning higher wages (through higher base wages as well as production bonuses), but also allows Inmates to progress into more responsible roles and responsibly within the particular shop. In order to test out this new idea, Canteen Services was chosen and effective September 2020, they implemented their new pay plan. This resulted in Inmates being able to earn nearly twice the wages that they were making previously and has dramatically increased the morale within the shop. Ultimately, this provides the opportunity for Inmates to make and save additional funds that will be critical upon their release. This successful model is being examined for implementation in other CCI shops and programs.
Additionally, Canteen Services staff worked with Prison Operations Leadership to provide opportunities to eight members of the Juveniles Convicted as Adults Program (JCAP). These Inmates were juveniles when they initially committed their crimes and have spent more than twenty years in prison. Through these initiatives, Inmates participating in the Canteen Services program have expressed a sincere appreciation for the opportunity afforded to them. This appreciation has been expressed in various letters, including one from an Inmate who wrote, “I have gained so much self worth…and the key to success and completing parole is the will and determination to know that I am so much more than a number.” They note a sense of gratitude as they regain their self-worth and develop greater confidence in their work abilities.