North Carolina Department of Correction News - March 1999

Harnett helping to provide computers for schools

LILLINGTON — Since the beginning of the year, Harnett Correctional Institution and Central Carolina Community College have been working in conjunction with State Surplus Property to provide computers to school children across the state.

As part of its award-winning Computers for Schools program, State Surplus is sending used, worn-out computers to Harnett Correctional for repair by inmates enrolled in the prison’s electronic servicing curriculum. Once the inmates get the computers up and running again, they are distributed to schools across the state under the direction of State Surplus for a nominal service fee of $20 per computer.

The Computers for Schools program was implemented by State Surplus in 1997. Having only limited resources to repair the computers themselves, State Surplus turned to Harnett for help. With an established electronic servicing curriculum offered through CCCC already in place, the prison had an experienced inmate labor pool available to help with the repair work.

Inmates enrolled in the two-semester course learn skills for trouble-shooting and repairing personal computers. Since the beginning of January, the inmates have repaired and refurbished 25 computers. The first batch of these inmate-recycled computers were delivered to students at Harnett Central Middle School. Along with the computers, the school also received computer tables built by inmates enrolled in the prison’s carpentry program.

"This is a wonderful program," said Joseph Hall, assistant superintendent at Harnett. "It gives the inmates something productive to do and the opportunity to help society. This is a win-win-win situation. The inmates feel good about themselves, the students are getting the chance to have hands-on experience with computers and the taxpayers are saving money. It’s not often that a prison can be involved in a program this positive that benefits everyone involved." u

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