Last blog post I wrote about my prison job and described basically what my role is. This post will share with you some specifics about what I have done. The first big aspect I am involved with is dealing with UNICOR selling on Amazon. My boss thought since UNICOR’s solution for handling of returns and overall customer service regarding product issues is bad, my boss thought we should look at selling on Amazon. When he told our team this, I informed him that prior to me surrendering, I started a business on Amazon and sold it 3 years later. It was a business which sold gummy vitamins. My experience allowed me to sit in the meetings with Amazon and UNICOR. This allowed me to draft up some very detailed questions to have answered by Amazon because the knowledge I gained when running the gummy business taught me what possible pitfalls UNICOR should look out for. We gave Amazon my questions over 4 weeks ago, and as of the date of this writing, Amazon has not gotten back to us. My overall thoughts for UNICOR would be to avoid selling on Amazon’s platform since the costs would cause UNICOR to lose money on each sold.
Another huge project I have been tasked with is helping UNICOR increase sales by finding a marketing firm to assist UNICOR to take advantage of the mandate in the First Step Act. The First Step Act passed in 2018 has opened up new potential market opportunities that entail:
1. Selling to penal and correctional institutions at state and local levels.
2. Selling to disaster relief or emergency places at state and local levels.
3. Selling to the agencies under the District of Columbia.
4. Selling to non-profit and religious organizations.
This act was passed so 75% of all abled bodied Federal inmates can be in a work program which helps inmates also earn time off their sentence. Shockingly or really not so shockingly, UNICOR has not done ANYTHING yet regarding this. In addition, for inmates currently working at UNICOR, the Bureau of Prisons still has NOT implemented reducing their sentences. This is extremely frustrating, but I have no control over this.
Nonetheless, my boss had the idea of us inmates with strong communication skills calling marketing companies that in the Forbes top 500 companies. However, the officers here would have to dial the phone for us and transfer the call, which is just not efficient or effective. (We inmates are not allowed to dial out to anyone outside of UNICOR) Therefore, I drafted a very short yet effective email to send out to the marketing companies. I have been blessed by the Almighty with business skills to create action by others. In the past week alone, we have had a huge response, which allowed myself and 2 other inmates on our team to sit in on the video calls with these large firms. We will be choosing which one to go with by mid-November is my guess.
Hopefully you now have a better idea at what I do at my prison job. The pay is awful. I started off at 23 cents an hour and no I am up to .69 cents an hour. I use the job to help pass the time in an environment where the officers actually treat me like a human, allow me to read, and it does help to be able to go to breakfast and lunch earlier than the other inmates no working with UNICOR so they Chow Hall guards do not rush me out.