North Carolina Department of Correction news release
Prisoners renovate and expand Old Fort police station
SEPTEMBER 30, 1998
|Old Fort - State prisoners are spending time
at the Old Fort police department. This time,
theyre not being booked. They are revamping the
offices and building an extension for the 11-man police
force. Officers have worked out of cramped quarters for
years and are glad for the arrival of the inmate labor
Ten inmates from a nearby prison have been laying concrete blocks, cutting and raising beams and joints, hanging and finishing sheetrock, and doing all the carpentry work for the new police department.
"We couldnt have afforded it otherwise," Mayor Wayne Stafford said. "Our costs have been $50,000 to supply the material. The inmate labor has saved the town more than $100,000 in labor costs."
That savings means a lot to the towns 1200 citizens, nestled in the mountain foothills. Old Fort, the furthest western outpost in 1776, doesnt have a major crime problem. A murder over a property dispute was the first for the town in ten years. Most of the crimes Police Chief Frankie Poteat sees are vandalism, petty theft and drugs. Yet the crimes are diverse. Outside Poteats office are juxtaposed two flyers, one of Muffin, a lost terrier and, the other, a sketch of Eric Rudolph, the suspected bomber of an Alabama abortion clinic. With such a wide spectrum of concerns, Poteat is happy to finally get more office space for her police force and she said the inmate labor has been wonderful.
"Their work has been excellent," Poteat said. "We couldnt have done it without them. Theres always someone in the group who knows how to do whatever needs to be done. Theyve done a super job. I am very impressed."
One inmate, modest about his work, said, "If you can read a level, you can hang a door." Another, when asked how he felt about building a police department said it didnt matter, "It all pays the same --- 70 cents (a day)."
The inmates are part of the Governors Community Work Crew and are housed at the Marion Minimum Security Facility. The inmates will work construction of the new police department for two weeks at a time, taking other projects during off weeks. In between time, plumbers and electricians do their work.
Marion prisons Sergeant Perry Franklin said the inmates do such good work, the joints cant be seen in the sheetrock.
"People are amazed the inmates can do that kind of work and do it so well," said Franklin. "Some contractors will do the job as quickly and cheaply as possible, while the inmates take the time to do the job right."
Editors note: Inmates will be working at the Old Fort Police Department again October 12-16.
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