Ohio prison shop meets demand for specialty plates

JULIE CARR SMYTH AP Statehouse Correspondent Published:

LEBANON, Ohio (AP) -- The tag shop at Lebanon Correctional Institution in southwestern Ohio is busy meeting growing demand for hundreds of specialty license plates featuring teams, schools, causes and special interests.

Technology available since 2002 makes creating a new license plate design as easy as naming a bridge or christening a highway. The prison operation teaches inmates trade skills they can transfer into the outside world when they're freed.

Lebanon's warden says inmates must display good behavior to land a job in the tag shop. They make up to $80 a month, compared to $17 a month for the average inmate.

Inmate Francis Russell, a 22-year-old serving 12 years for involuntary manslaughter, says he hopes his work in the specialty plate shop will provide him marketable skills when he leaves prison.

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