WILSON - A dozen female inmates began work this week at the N.C.Special Care Center, a nursing care facility for geriatric patients in Wilson.
Under a contract between the Department of Human Resources center and Fountain Correctional Center for Women, up to 40 minimum custody female inmates will work in the facility's kitchen and laundry and in housekeeping and clerical jobs.
Inmates will be closely supervised by Special Care staff. Prison staff will train Special Care Center employees to work with inmates. Then center employees will directly supervise the work of two to three inmates.
"The Special Care Center will put to work up to 72 inmates, 40 from Fountain and 32 from Greene," said Correction Secretary Franklin Freeman. "We are glad these inmates can meet the needs of another state agency, work to pay for their crimes and learn new skills that may help them get a job when they leave prison."
The Special Care Center first put inmates to work last July when a labor contract was signed with Greene Correctional Center, a minimum security prison for adult males.
The male inmates have assisted with renovating areas within the 1940's era seven-story building to provide a modern facility. They've also made improvements to the grounds.
"We estimate the use of inmate labor in these projects could be valued at $350,000," said Seth Hunt, executive director of the center.
The inmates work five days a week, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. They have worked on electrical wiring, plumbing fixtures and painting. They are also assigned to work in the kitchen and laundry as well as clerical and janitorial jobs.
The inmates from Fountain Correctional Center for Women will also begin two other work projects soon. Up to 30 inmates will work in clerical and housekeeping jobs under a labor contract with the Wilson County Department of Social Services. The inmates will begin working at the social services building next month.
Fountain will soon become the first prison for women to participate in the community work program. Under the program piloted at Greene Correctional Center, inmates work under the supervision of correctional officers to complete short term, manual labor jobs for local governments. Fountain will have two crews of female inmates who will work on landscaping and painting jobs.
More than 500 inmates from twelve different prisons are assigned to the community work program.