CARRBORO - N.C. prison inmates are back at work at the end of Eugene Street, continuing a clean-up project that began last month when they moved trash and old appliances and cleared brush from the creek bed.
State Correction Secretary Franklin Freeman was also on Eugene Street today talking about putting inmates to work for local government.
"These inmates from Orange Correctional Center are the latest to work in this new program that makes prison labor available to local government," said Freeman. "We're putting inmates to work in a way that benefits the community, expands local government's ability to provide services and makes the public more aware that inmates are working."
In the first five months of 1995, community work program inmates worked more than 201,000 hours on 554 projects in 50 N.C. communities.
Inmates from Orange have already worked in Carrboro, Roxboro and Durham County. The Hillsborough prison's work crew will serve Alamance, Durham, Orange and Person counties.
In a memo to town leaders, Carrboro Fire Chief Rodney Murray described last month's work by the crew of Orange inmates at Eugene Street as a huge success. He wrote that the program is offered free of charge to local governments that haven't had the personnel or funds to tackle such projects in the past.
Under the community work program, crews of up to 14 minimum custody inmates are supervised by a correction officer in short-term, manual labor projects for local government. The program was piloted at Greene Correctional Center last year and proved successful. The work program expanded to Caldwell, Carteret, Davidson, Duplin, Montgomery, New Hanover, Rowan, Rutherford, Sanford and Wilkes correctional centers earlier this year.
Inmates have tackled a number of jobs across the state. They have painted public buildings, built a picnic area, cleaned beach fronts, cleaned cemeteries and removed debris from flooding and storms. Mainly, inmates have cut brush and cleared trash.
The inmates have been highly visible. Each wears a safety vest with INMATE on the back in large block letters. Large highway signs are also posted near work zones to make the public aware that inmates are working.
While the public may see the inmates working in this program or on road crews for the Department of Transportation, Secretary Freeman pointed out the public rarely visits prisons, the site where the majority of inmates work.
"We seek to put every able-bodied inmate into a job or training program to prepare him for work," Freeman said.