By Scott Hamilton, Charleston Gazette-Mail
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Don’t be surprised to see more paper temporary tags than usual on cars navigating West Virginia’s roads.
Production is down as the prison system has scaled back operations because of confirmed COVID-19 cases and inmates being quarantined, according to state officials. West Virginia Correctional Industries at Mount Olive Correctional Complex cranked out 469,373 license plates in 2020, said Lawrence Messina of the state Department of Homeland Security. The usual output is about 500,000 plates crafted by the plant’s 17-inmate crew. Those plates are then ordered months in advance by the state and stored in a warehouse for distribution.
“There have been some distribution delays to motorists, especially for specialty plates,” said Natalie Holcomb, spokeswoman for the state Division of Motor Vehicles.
West Virginia isn’t the only state that’s had to adapt.
California — the largest manufacturer of license plates in the country — is also dealing with reduced production. Its 120-man workforce normally crafts upwards of 50,000 plates daily Monday through Thursday at its Folsom State Prison Factory. But officials said those numbers now vary widely thanks to hundreds of COVID-19 cases throughout the prison…