BUENA VISTA - As he walks through the saddle shop at the Buena Vista Correctional Facility, Duncan Clark says he has no reason to be worried. I then ask him if we should be worried.
"Well, over 450 of the tools in here are 'Class A,' or considered to be weapons," he said.
There are blades, knives, and all sorts of things you would never expect to see in a prison. Clark then told us, "My feeling is, if all I did was worry what (the prisoners) were doing behind my back, none of this work would ever get done."
There, he says, lies all the proof he needs that the workers in this saddle shop are learning more than just how to manufacture saddles.
"They want stuff to go out of here right, the first time," Clark said.
He has run the shop for more than six years now.
There are 31 inmates currently working in this shop inside the prison. Two staff members, including Clark, supervise their work.
They can turn out close to 50 saddles a week. Their saddles go to Colorado Saddlery in Denver.
The prisoners will tell you: this is likely the most coveted job in the state's prison system. The fact that they all make minimum wage certainly doesn't hurt. Sixty-cents-a-day is the prison job norm.
"We know what we've got going on in here, and we know if at any time we decide to mess with that, it can be taken away from us," said Nathan Highline.