WINDHAM, Maine — Maine inmates have produced thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to help meet a growing need in the state.
More than 125,000 cloth face masks and nearly 10,000 face shields have been made, according to Dept. of Corrections officials.
"The goal really is to make a positive impact," Deputy. Commissioner Ryan Thornell told NEWS CENTER Maine.
Production is happening at several facilities in the state, Thornell said, including the Women's Center in Windham.
The equipment has been distributed to state departments and agencies in need, as well as nonprofit organizations at no cost.
Thornell said they are even providing PPE to the Office of Child and Family Services to allow workers to continue to help vulnerable children in the system safely.
"When they hear stories about the lives impacted by it and the difference that they're making, it's very uplifting for them," he said. "So during a time like we're all experiencing knowing that they're making an impact while they're inside serving their sentence really is meaningful to them."
In addition to the masks and shields, inmates are making reusable gowns and hoods, Thornell said are sometimes of superior quality to other products on the market.
The cost of the materials is covered in part by federal funds.
Thornell said they plan to continue to produce the equipment as long as it is needed.