Prisoners Help Lions Club Recycle Glasses, Gain Job Skills

  • BY Lainie Petersen

Here’s an encouraging news story from the Reno Gazette-Journal: A woman’s prison in Nevada has partnered with the Lions Club to create a vocational skills training program. Inmates selected to participate in the program help sort and process eyeglasses collected by the Lions Club for distribution to (mostly) people in developing countries. There are plans to implement the program in other Nevada prisons.

Lions Club

I’ve written about the Lions Club in the past, but here’s the story in a nutshell: The Lions Club is a civic organization with a special emphasis on promoting vision health. In addition to providing free eye screenings in many communities, Lions Clubs also collect unused eyeglasses for recycling.

How the Project Works

The Lions Club is well-known for is ubiquitous eyeglass recycling boxes, often found in restaurants, shops and even houses of worship. The Lions Club periodically collects these glasses and sends them off for processing. Each donated pair undergoes cleaning and inspection: Those suitable for redistribution are sent on to various charities that offer vision clinic services to the poor. Glasses that can’t be reused by others are either sold to organizations that refurbish glasses or to general recycling centers where the glasses can be broken down into recyclable materials.

In the Nevada vocational training project, inmates at the Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center are trained in eyeglass recycling processing techniques, which include using a lensometer (a device that reads a lens prescription) as well as sorting and labeling the glasses for distribution.

Prison officials are reportedly excited about the program, noting that vocational training for prisoners is often crucial in helping inmates readjust to society after release: Not only do these inmates learn job skills that can help them find gainful employment after release, studies show that vocational programs can help lower recidivism rates. The Gazette-Journal story notes that guards also approve of the programs, as vocational opportunities help keep the inmates occupied, easing the difficult task of maintaining order in a correctional facility.