James B. Hunt, Jr., Governor
Theodis Beck, Secretary
Tracy Little, Director of Public Information (919) 733-4926

June 30, 2000

With Students Away for Summer, Inmates Clean Up Schools

RALEIGH -- From the mountains to the coast, inmates are involved in cleanup and maintenance projects in more than 80 public schools while North Carolina students are on summer vacation.

Throughout the summer, inmate work crews will be working in public schools painting classrooms, waxing hallways, washing windows, moving furniture and performing general maintenance duties as part of the Governor's Community Work Program.

"Gov. Hunt believes strongly that every able-bodied inmate should be working," DOC Secretary Theodis Beck said. "When inmates work for the schools, taxpayers and the public schools save money on labor. Inmates also develop job skills and a work ethic that will, hopefully, enable them to become productive citizens upon their release from the system."

Under the program, squads of up to 10 minimum custody inmates provide free manual labor for public agencies under the supervision of a correctional officer. Since the inmates are only allowed to work in the schools when the students are away, inmates normally tackle numerous projects for the public schools during the summer months.

Along the coast, inmates will be cleaning, painting classrooms, stripping and waxing floors, and removing carpet and cabinets at Columbia High School. In central North Carolina, inmates will be painting and landscaping at West Montgomery Middle school in Troy.

In the west, one Community Work project has inmates building a retaining wall and washing mobile units at Walnut Elementary School in Madison County, but this is not the first time the school has been helped by the Community Work Program.

In July 1998, arsonists destroyed Walnut Elementary School. After the fire, DOC sent inmate work crews to help set up mobile units and move furniture. Walnut principal Willa Wyatt said the help her school received was invaluable. "If not for the Department of Correction, we would not have been able to reopen. Wyatt went on to say that when the inmate labor crews come to help each year, "It's the highlight of my summer. We have a tremendous dependence on them."

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