_ Take a walk through the 30 acres of the
Harnett Correctional Institution compound and one
thing is clear: this is a facility that keeps
inmates busy. From processing meat products to
computer repair classrooms, staff and inmates are
involved in a multitude of work assignments and
Harnett is a medium-custody
institution that houses 850 adult male inmates.
Superintendent Martin McDade and staff operate
the facility with confidence in themselves and in
what they do. "We try to do a lot of things,
but not spread ourselves too thin," said
McDade, a 32-year DOC veteran who began his
career as a nurse at Central Prison. "I
think the taxpayers are getting their money's
worth here. The staff produces a lot of good work."
The vocational and educational programs at
Harnett are operated by Central Carolina
Community College. The education school offers
ABE and GED preparation courses. Vocational
training includes courses in masonry, electrical
wiring, auto mechanics, small engine repair,
welding, computer repair, facility maintenance
and food service. The programs are as diverse as
one will find at any other prison in the state,
said Bill Tyson, who heads the education program
for Central Carolina. Several of the programs
have been cited for excellence. For example,
welding students have won national awards for
their projects, Tyson said. Harnett is currently
participating in a cooperative venture with other
state agencies to construct bluebird nest boxes
to be distributed to fifth graders across North
Carolina. "We try to look for projects that
not only teach the inmates the skills, but also
give something back to the community," Tyson
Harnett is home to the Division of Prisons'
sex offender treatment program known as SOAR (Sex
Offender Accountability and Responsibility) which
began in 1991. SOAR is designed to keep inmates
from re-offending. The program usually has about
35 inmates in the program at any one time, and
gets about 100 referrals for those slots. Program
Director Robert Carbo says the support from
Harnett has helped make the program a success.
"Ours is a program that might not be wanted
at some other facilities. But we have good
support from the management here in what we're
trying to accomplish."
Touring the prison compound from building to
building, there are few inmates in the dorms or
on the exercise yard. Everyone who can
participate in some type of activity does.
Correction Enterprises operates two plants at
Harnett -- meat processing and janitorial
products. The meat processing plant produces
about 200,000 pounds of meat products each month.
The products are stored in a freezer, then later
shipped to prison units throughout the state. The
janitorial products plant produces and packages,
among other products, glass cleaner, floor waxes
and bar soap bearing the NCCE logo.
Over in the chapel, clinical chaplain J.
Stancil Baucom is busy preparing for religious
services and volunteer programs. The freestanding
chapel was constructed with donations received
from the Community Resource Council and local
churches. Inside, Baucom takes a minute to show
off the altar furniture that was built by inmates
in the woodworking program. He quickly points out
that churches can also have the inmates build
furniture for them as well, if they provide the
materials. There are about 70 religious meetings
representing 10 to 12 religious affiliations each
month. About 75 religious volunteers donate time
at the facility each month, he said.
Harnett opened in 1936 as a one-dormitory unit
that was built adjacent to the state highway
department, which operated prisons at the time.
In 1965, an expansion of the unit increased
capacity to 450 and soon afterward Harnett became
a facility for male inmates under 21. In 1985,
Harnett was converted to a medium security prison
for adult males and was designated as a
comprehensive education facility. Today
approximately one-third of the inmate population
are serving life sentences.