Magazine article Corrections Today

Arkansas Correctional Industries Teams Up with Athletic Association

Magazine article Corrections Today

Arkansas Correctional Industries Teams Up with Athletic Association

Article excerpt

In 1986, the National Federation of State High School Associations set out to make pole vaulting a safer sport in high schools. Its stricter standards for pole vault pits included a mandate for larger landing pads. This seemingly simple requirement--larger landing pads--touched off a chain of events that would have a huge impact on the state's correctional industries, athletic programs and inmates' lives.

The Arkansas Athletic Association (AAA) enlisted the help of the Arkansas Correctional Industries (ACI) to adapt its pads to the new standards. Through the combined efforts of ACI and AAA, pad extensions were designed and accepted by the National Federation of High School Associations. Pad extensions enabled many high schools to adapt their pole vault pits to the stricter requirements rather than replace them. At a time when Arkansas was extremely concerned with fiscal allocation and inmate productivity, this project was highly regarded as it resulted in tremendous savings for the state educational system while opening a new door for Arkansas Correctional Industries.

Creating a Product Line

As ACI sales representatives visited athletic departments in schools and colleges, coaches and athletic directors began asking them for more sports-related items. As a result, ACI initiated a new program with little or no additional expenditure of funds. Twenty inmates were assigned to the newly created athletic products branch of ACI. Since the necessary equipment was already located within the Vehicle Refurbishing Division, there was no need for an additional outlay of capital funding to initiate this program.

After ACI's success with the pole vault pit extensions, staff identified other athletic equipment needs and rapidly developed a product line that included the extensions, complete pole vault pits and high jump pits. Soon ACI was producing hurdles, two- and seven-man blocking sleds, blocking dummies, goal posts, goal post pads and other items for the state's athletic departments.

A Mutually Beneficial Relationship

The athletic programs in Arkansas are now able to obtain quality athletic goods at an affordable price from ACI. Whenever regulations are modified or new equipment is required, ACI and AAA work together to meet these standards. Such was the case when protective fencing was required around discus rings. ACI developed a protection fence to meet this need and now markets its products at several coaching clinics each year. …

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