correctional center adds bakery to sharpen skills, save money

correctional center adds bakery to sharpen skills, save money

JAMESTOWN, ND (KFYR) — A “diet of bread and water” was abolished long ago as punishment for inmates. In recent hundreds of years, more thought has gone into punishment, rehabilitation and crime prevention, but prison staff still need to think about how to feed those responsible. Now, following the example of the North Dakota State Penitentiary, the bread served at the James River Correctional Center is fresh and meant to save money.

Residents of the James River Correctional Center learn to bake and take on new challenges.

“I never really had any baking experience before this,” said a resident baker.

Every day the bakers, which are approved by the director of the food service, make pastries. They have done their job for them.

“Come in, get everything ready, get the bread ready, let it rise, roll it and then put it in the oven,” said another baker.

Since the bakery’s debut this spring, the smell of baked goods has been wafting from the kitchen.

“For the institution, it reminds people a bit of home, but first and foremost for the residents, they will have a skill when they get out,” said Brandi Netolicky, deputy director at JRCC.

The residents say they hope the work experience they gain baking will follow them after they leave the facility.

“It’s just learning new things that I can take with me and make for people when I go out and my family and stuff,” said a third resident baker.

New skills aren’t the only benefit. Employees say the bakery has been in operation for about four years. The goal is to save the state money.

“To save bread, we hired some guys and brought in the equipment. We tweaked recipes back and forth to get what we wanted, and the recipes turned out really good,” said Shaun Fischer, assistant food service director at JRCC.

Assistant Food Services Director Shaun Fischer says it costs less to bake a loaf of bread than it does to buy one. He says it took about a month to hone the “perfect” bread recipe.

He says the rollout went smoothly and every resident baker picked it up quickly.

“For me, as I said, it helps to get away from the daily worries of ordinary prison life,” said the first resident baker.

The bakery prepares fresh products seven days a week. Those at the facility and at the state hospital say it took extra kneading.

The staff say there is no waste as leftovers are used to make crotons and other items.

In December, staff say they plan to install equipment to add pizza dough to the bakery’s repertoire.