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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Classroom Desks made in NYS Penitentiary

    For many attending Stony Brook University, the daily routines and dealings made behind the scenes by the administration are far removed from everyday tasks and thoughts. What the administration does, however, affects what students deal with throughout their days.

    Many on campus have never heard of Corcraft products, but everyone has come into contact with something manufactured by Corcraft. From student desks and chairs to dormitory furniture, Corcraft has supplied Stony Brook with products for over 30 years.

    Corcraft is based in New York State and is a Division of Industries of the NYS Department of Correctional Services.

    Essentially, not only are the Tablet Arm Chairs used in many classrooms made instate in Washington County, but the chairs are manufactured in the Great Meadow Correctional Facility by prison inmates. The Great Meadow Correctional Facility is located in Comstock, New York, which is approximately 70 miles Northeast of Albany.

    The facility is designated as a Maximum Security penitentiary that houses all men, some of whom are incarcerated for life. Some prison inmates are employed by Corcraft to manufacture products from classroom desks to white handkerchiefs. Some employees are sentenced to life in prison, remembers one SB administrator who toured Attica State Penitentiary eight years ago.

    Those who are employed go through an extensive five-step training process. From sweeping the floors of a factory to metal work, inmates first get knowledge of the facilities and are required to maintain good behavior.

    Corcraft mentions four principles found on the company website that are core to their business. First, Corcraft keeps inmates employed, which effectually, prevents disruption. Secondly, by employing inmates Corcraft helps offset the cost of incarcerating these individuals. Up to $30,000 can be saved over an incarceration period of one individual suggests Frank Rooney, an official at Corcraft.

    Thirdly, these inmates learn skills and discipline. Rooney adds to this that the inmates learn valuable working skills and disciplines that they may not have experienced in civilian life.Finally, this program upholds ‘taxpayer expectations that inmates do something productive while incarcerated.’

    Corcraft maintains that they manufacture superior products at fair and reasonable prices. Stony Brook’s most popular purchase from Corcraft is the chairs with the attached side desks that are used in many classrooms.

    Corcraft sells the chairs for $66 each, which includes the shipping and delivery. After Corcraft does market research, they sometimes sell their products at a 15% discount from market value. Even with low prices and minimal pay to the inmates, starting at approximately 20 cents per hour, Corcraft earns a profit every year.

    The profit is reinvested into the correctional system and the general fund of NYS, therefore lowering the need of NYS tax revenues.

    The contract between Stony Brook and Corcraft does not have to be first negotiated because Corcraft is designated as a ‘preferred source.’ The government verifies that Corcraft maintains a fair market price and Stony Brook’s administration can trust this without any further negotiations.

    Corcraft is not run as a regular government agency and is instead run like a business. Corcraft is, by law, only allowed to deal with public agencies from any state and not able sell to the general public.Certain non-profit organizations have contracts worked out with Corcraft. The services Corcraft does for other government agencies, such as hospitals, public schools, and universities is done without using tax money and is independently run.

    Not all of Stony Brook’s furniture is purchased from Corcraft. The Procurement office has contracts with many different companies. There is no guarantee that Corcraft will continue to supply Stony Brook with furniture every year because the contracts change annually.

    However, officials from both Stony Brook and Corcraft have been satisfied with their dealings thus far. Dorm furniture, in particular, is purchased infrequently and salvaged until all utility is worn away. John Vatalaro, the Assistant Financial Services Administrator of the Division of Campus Residences mentions that the dorm rooms are refurnished every ten years.

    During the subsequent years, the University contracts with other organizations to have salvageable furniture refurbished. Mattresses are replaced more often. This past summer, Kelly Quad was completely refurnished with new mattresses, bed frames, dressers, desks, desk chairs, and hutches with lights.

    There is approximately $840 per student worth of furniture in a dorm room. Most noticeable about the new furniture is the new bed frames that allow for more storage underneath the mattress. These new bed frames were considered after the University organized a student-based focus group who decided more storage would be helpful to students living on campus.

    Tabler Quad is scheduled to be refurnished in the summer of 2008. Evaluations and purchasing for the furniture begins during Thanksgiving break and continues during the times when the students’ are not living in the rooms.

    Seemingly unimportant details of the University are entire tasks and careers of many in the University and those associated with Stony Brook. Corcraft is one such company that students may not recognize, but encounter their products everyday and, indirectly, positively affects the finances of those who work and live in New York State.

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