Work Program For Women Inmates Looks To Add Housing

Feb 13, 2020

Signs for Decatur Plastic Products outside the company headquarters in North Vernon underscore their need for workers. (Justin Hicks/IPB News)

A work release program in southern Indiana is hoping to find housing to help women after they’re released from prison. They want to mimic success they’ve had with a men’s recovery program.

The work release program takes women from local jails to work at Decatur Plastic Products in North Vernon, Indiana. The women are paid a regular wage and many use their earnings to pay off court fees upon release. A housing and employment program called The Potter’s House already exists at the company for men struggling with drug addiction.

Karen Lea-Freeman is the human resources manager at Decatur Plastic Products and started the work release program. She says without temporary housing for the women upon release, the program still has a big hole.

“We’re not setting them up for success,” she says. “We’re getting them a job, but what happens when they get out of jail and they don’t have a place to go to?”

The company says the work release program helps women transition from incarceration while, in turn, helping the company solve a worker shortage. 

Contact Justin at or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.