From: Gary Polson
Strength Tech, Inc.
P.O. Box 1381
Stillwater OK 74076
To: Senator Donald Nickles
133 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington D.C. 20510
My wife, Lora, and I run a small business (Strength Tech) in Stillwater. Our business is the design, manufacture, and sale of unique items for use in Prison weight lifting facilities. Our products include: weight lifting plates made from rubber, foam and vinyl for reupholstering weight lifting equipment that is used outside (like in most prisons), a unique patented barbell collar, a book on design of weight rooms with special emphasis on prisons, and other items. In the past we developed a mirror made from bullet proof glass for use in prison weight rooms and also sold some special welded equipment items to prisons. We have done business with over 250 prisons (state, federal, and military). Also we have also been working on a new invention for over two years for use in prison weight lifting. It is a new type of barbell collar that is extremely safe and cannot be turned into a weapon.
As you may know, currently their is an effort to ban weight lifting in prisons in several states and in the federal prison system. Some claim inmates bulk up in prison, get released, and prey on the public. Such a ban would be devastating to our business. We just returned from displaying our equipment at the NCRA (National Correctional Recreation Association) Annual Conference in Mystic CT. The group watched a video of the piece recently done on 20/20 and had a long discussion on the topic. The attendees were recreation directors and support staff from state and federal correctional institutions across the country. They unanimously adopted a position statement calling for continuing to lift weights in prison. They cited free time as a major problem. Lifting keeps the inmates out of trouble. It improves their self image and teaches them leisure skills. It allows them to vent energy in a constructive fashion. It is used as a control. If you "mess up" you are not allowed weight privileges. Most violent crimes are committed in combination with alcohol, drugs, and weapons. Being big is not a crime ( I hope not, I am 6"4" and 315#).
I used to lift competitively and have lifted as a guest in prison meets. I have also judged prison power lifting meets. It is a great release for them to be able to participate. I have visited many prisons around the United States and I always find the inmates most attentive and focused at the "weight pile."
Our business is now 12 years old. We have spent the last 7 years focusing on the prison market. We have felt very good about it. I have personally met many inmates that weightlifting has helped. I feel great about our company and the way we have chosen to both make a living and to put something back into society.
Please help us! I understand a Congresswoman from Ohio (Debra Price) has an amendment that is now part of the House crime bill to outlaw lifting in federal prisons. At the NCRA Conference, most thought that many state prison systems would follow the federal governments lead. Passage of this amendment would mean immediate crippling of our small business that we have worked so hard to build. We wrote Representative Brewster back in May and just received his response yesterday (letter dated 9 June but we received it 24 June). His office says the amendment passed. We assume that eventually the House and Senate Crime bills will go to committee to work out the differences. Please take any action you can to help defeat this item (amendment).
Thank you very much for you help and attention to this matter.
Strength Tech, Inc.
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