BURGAW - The largest road squad in the state doubled in size during the summer. Pender Correctional Institution now has 120 inmates digging ditches and swinging bush axes, up from 56 inmates.

At 7:30 each morning, 10 squads of inmates from Pender Correctional Institution are frisked and searched before boarding caged vans or buses to head to roadsides in need of repair. Three armed officers are assigned to a squad of 12 inmates.

Prison Superintendent Jack Turlington requested the extra work crews to put every qualified inmate at Pender Correctional Institution to work.

Inmates earn 70 cents a day digging and clearing out drainage ditches along roadsides in Pender, Onslow, Duplin and Sampson counties.

The Department of Transportation selects work sites and an officer from the Pender prison inspects the area to make sure the area can be guarded properly.

Correction Secretary Franklin Freeman was at Pender Correctional Institution Wednesday and said, "Gov. Hunt has pushed hard to put more inmates to work, and this is one more effort to keep prisoners from being idle. Those assigned to the road squads are learning what it's like to work hard eight hours a day, five days a week."