RALEIGH - Gov. Jim Hunt's push to put more inmates to work has helped increase the number of state inmates working or training for jobs to 16,000. Since the beginning of 1993, more than 2,600 inmate jobs have been added to the correction workforce, including expansion of the road squads and creating the Community Work Program.
Prisons involved in the Community Work Program send inmates to labor-intensive jobs needed by state and local governments, usually clearing trash, cutting brush and painting public buildings. Recently, 100 inmates cleaned up storm debris from Jordan, Falls, and Kerr lakes following weeks of flooding. Another work crew slashed scrub pines and cleared out grass and weeds around a threatened earthen dam at the N.C. Zoological Park in Asheboro. At Somerset House near Phelps Lake in Washington County, inmates cleaned out more than a half mile of the site's historic drainage ditches which needed to be hand dug. Inmates cleaned a bike path and the shoreline of Topsail Beach and tire dumps have been cleaned out in Stokes, Gates and Duplin counties.
"We need to make sure that every able-bodied inmate in North Carolina's prison system is working -- and working hard," Gov. Hunt said. "Whether they're clearing brush or repairing public buildings, these jobs teach criminals the value of hard work and discipline."
Since the beginning of the Community Work Program last summer, inmates have spent several hundred thousand hours working on more than 700 community service projects, saving thousands of tax dollars.
In addition to the Community Work Program, nine prisons are either expanding their highway clean-up crews or beginning new ones, adding another 420 jobs to the nearly 2,000 road jobs already in existence. Another 5,000 inmates work inside the prison units cooking, cleaning and doing maintenance work. Correction Enterprise employs nearly 2,000 inmates in their operations which include printing plants, farms, soap and paint manufacturing, laundries, and sewing plants. More than 100 inmates are on construction jobs, building prisons and installing security fences.
"Working inmates benefits the public in many ways and we hope to provide as many jobs as possible for each and every inmate who is sent to the Department of Correction," Correction Secretary Franklin Freeman said. "Nearly every inmate in prison now who is available to work is put to work. Gov. Hunt has directed the Department of Correction to put every able-bodied inmate to work, and we are doing just that," Freeman said.