PHOENIX - While Arizona prisons are pulling inmate labor out of the community and putting them back in prison due to the coronavirus pandemic, the same can't be said for Hickman's Eggs.
The company is in the process of building an emergency dorm for female inmates who are allowed to work at this time.
"We're in the process of installing bunks, a place for the inmates to go to sleep at night," said Glenn Hickman. "We have portable showers in sufficient quantities, restrooms in sufficient quantities. We're going to be feeding them with a contractors."
They are turning it into a satellite facility for some low-level female offenders. These are the inmates people often see working in the community.
Keeping production at Hickman's Egg Farms is important at the moment, as supplies at the stores can be hard to find. Now, with the help of some inmates, the processes can continue to function.
"The inmates do provide critical functions, making sure the hens are healthy, and the eggs get packed and sent out the doors," said Hickman.
David Shinn with the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Entry says it's all for the greater good, and the community need not worry.
"Without the ability to provide food to our communities, our entire country is going to suffer," said Shinn. "Our folks will be here 24/7 to make sure that we maintain safety for offenders who are here, and for the community as well."
Hickman says he started the inmate work program with less than 10 inmates 25 years ago. Now, nearly 300 inmates take part in the program. He is grateful the program can continue, despite concerns over COVID-19.
"We'll be able to have the long-term effect of continue to have inmates work here, learn a skill, and then remain active members of society even after they leave the institution," said Hickman.
There's about 140 female inmates who will work on the farm until the coronavirus outbreak is under control.