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A Win for Correctional Facilities and a Win for Inmates
By Robert Kravitz, President AlturaSolutions
Published: 01/20/2020

Cleaning solutions California has developed a state prison cleaning and training program that is so impressive in so many different ways, I wanted to make sure corrections administrators around the country are aware of it.

The program is called Healthcare Facilities Maintenance or HFM for short. The California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) operates the program, which was started in November 2015. Upon its inception, the program created 1,000 job assignments for male and female offenders in the state's prison system. It is now operated in all of the state's 34 correctional and rehabilitation facilities and employs more than 7,000 inmates [1].

So we are clear, this is not just another custodial training program, far from it. First, to even be part of the program, inmates must have a high school or GED* diploma or better. One reason for this is because of the technical and specialized nature of the cleaning work.

The inmates will be working in the hospital and healthcare sections of a correctional facility. They will be required to know not only how to properly use cleaning solutions, tools, and equipment, but how to safely and effectively remove blood-borne pathogens and potentially dangerous bodily fluids from surfaces.

Further, they are trained on how to clean-up possible norovirus incidents and prevent norovirus from spreading in a facility. Health, safety, and compliance issues are also taught because they must be strictly adhered to when performing these types of potentially dangerous cleaning procedures.

According to CALPIA, infection prevention and germ control are the main goals of the program. Along with training, the program includes hands-on supervision, instruction on the use of specialized cleaning products, and inmates are also taught environmental "best practices." This helps ensure the cleaning solutions used and cleaning methods performed have a reduce impact on the environment.

"[We are taught] procedures we must follow [and] what chemicals to use," says inmate Tracy Smith, an HFM trainee. "There are different applications for what we do, and that's what sets us apart. We are trained to work in a hospital setting."

Offenders are paid for their work, many sending money back home to their families, and work about seven hours per day. Once trained, the inmates can attain accreditation from a state custodial training program as well as certifications, verifying they have been instructed on OSHA requirements when it comes to cleaning up potentially hazardous surfaces.

To help evaluate the effectiveness of their work, CAPPIA has developed a systematic approach that includes assessments of the cleaning work performed, surveys, audits, and inspections. Further, to ensure consistent cleaning quality, administrators use ATP monitoring systems.

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is an enzyme present in all living cells. Often the way ATP monitors are used is that surfaces are tested before cleaning to see if organic matter, which could be potentially hazardous, is on a surface. If present, the same surface is tested again after cleaning. If ATP is still present in large enough amounts, it indicates the surface was not cleaned and disinfected properly. If little or no ATP is present after cleaning, the surface has been adequately cleaned.

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the ATP tests indicate healthcare areas of correctional facilities are "significantly cleaner" since the HFM program started and provide "actual proof of a job well done." [1]

But there is another benefit to the HFM program. These inmates are being taught employable skills. Not only will they be able to work as custodial workers – for which there will be a 12 percent increase in demand over the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics - but many of these inmates are now custodial specialists. They have the training and capabilities to handle clean-up operations in specialized fields such as in healthcare, high-tech, and cleanroom settings.

"You get an opportunity not only to be out of your cell, but [to] feel like you're in a work environment," according to one inmate in the HFM program. "You [learn] to interact with people on every different level. You have to be professional. This is something I can do, and [I can] look at my work and be proud of what I've done."

Robert Kravitz is a frequent writer for the correctional industry. He can be reached at robert.kravitz@outlook.com

*A General Educational Development diploma is equivalent to a high school diploma.

1. California Prison Industry Authority, Source for Quotes: Michele Kane, chief of external affairs for the California Prison Industry Authority


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