Municipal offices and agencies across the state have a new option for obtaining plexiglass dividers to protect employees and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Massachusetts Correctional Industries (MassCor), a division of the Massachusetts Department of Correction, recently announced the availability of free-standing plexiglass service and sneeze guards manufactured at MCI-Shirley. Under state law, cities and towns can purchase the products without going out to bid, and MassCor will deliver the items free of charge.

MassCor sales and marketing representative Steve Cristol said many municipalities from all regions of the state have purchased the plexiglass shields for use in schools as well as city and town halls and police, fire and highway departments.

“From my perspective,” Cristol said, “it’s just bridging a gap and helping municipalities meet their goals, while helping inmates … so when they are released they have marketable skills for jobs.”

Cristol said the wait time for delivery is running about three weeks, but that could change depending on supply and demand for plexiglass, which is currently “off the charts.”

The Commonwealth first authorized its prison industries program in 1887 and rebranded it as MassCor about a decade ago. Serving the procurement needs of municipalities, state agencies, businesses, and other entities, MassCor operates 17 manufacturing operations in seven correctional institutions. MassCor’s mission is “to offer diverse, self-sustaining programs that are beneficial to offenders and economical for the Commonwealth.”

Inmates at MCI-Shirley aren’t the only ones filling the need for COVID-19 protective equipment. Unrelated to MassCor, the Hampden County House of Corrections in Ludlow has been producing personal protective equipment since the spring. According to WAMC public radio, the Hampden County correctional industries program has produced more than 65,000 face masks and is now manufacturing hospital gowns.

For more information on MassCor plexiglass products, contact Cristol at Steven.Cristol@massmail.state.ma.us.