JUNE 19, 1995
RALEIGH - Nine medium custody prisons are either expanding their road squads or starting new ones, adding another 420 inmates working on the state's highways.
The prisons starting new road squads are Brown Creek Correctional Institution in Anson County, Piedmont Correctional Institution in Rowan County, Lumberton Correctional Institution in Robeson County and Wayne Correctional Center in Wayne County. More than 250 inmates will work in these new squads.
The prisons adding to their existing number of squads are Caswell, Columbus, Johnston and Randolph correctional centers and Pender Correctional Institution. With this expansion, an additional 168 inmates will work on the roads.
"Expanding the medium custody road squads works more inmates who are a higher security risk," Correction Secretary Franklin Freeman said. "The public expects inmates to work while they are in prison, and the Department of Correction is doing just that. These new and expanded road squads will put hundreds more inmates to work in tough jobs."
Medium custody road squads have two or three armed correctional officers supervising 12 to 14 inmates per squad. Pender Correctional Institution has 10 road squads with 120 inmates, the largest road squad in the state.
While prisons such as Pender and Brown Creek and Lumberton have already added some squads, most will be ready by the end of the summer after staff are hired, weapons are purchased, and security equipment is added to new buses.
The Department of Correction contracts with the Department of Transportation each year for inmate labor. Before this expansion, 2,067 inmates were working on the road, 1,283 in minimum custody and 784 in medium custody.
Medium custody inmates wear brown prison clothes and have an orange safety vest with INMATE in large block letters on the back of the vest. Transportation officials make the job assignments and correctional officers take the inmates to dig ditches, clean litter from the roadside or trim rights-of-way.
Inmate road work dates back to an 1887 law requiring judges to sentence less serious offenders to hard labor on the county roads and highways.