JANUARY 30, 1996

RALEIGH - Government agencies saved more than $3 million in 1995 using inmate labor available through the Governor's Community Work Program.

Inmates from 18 minimum security prisons across North Carolina worked 732,156 hours painting public buildings, picking up litter and clearing brush for local governments and state agencies. At the minimum wage rate of $4.25 an hour, that would total $3,111,663.

"These inmates worked hard on jobs that made our communities better," said Correction Secretary Franklin Freeman. "Everyone wins with the Governor's Community Work Program. Inmates learn a work ethic and local governments stretch tax dollars using free inmate labor on tasks that improve neighborhoods and benefit towns."

In the Community Work Program, a correctional officer supervises squads of up to 14 minimum custody inmates in short-term, manual labor jobs for government agencies. The program began at Greene Correctional Center in May 1994. It was established at another 15 prisons during 1995. As 1995 ended, Buncombe and Henderson correctional centers began working inmates in the program. It will be added at 15 more prisons in 1996.

Greene Correctional Center's Community Work Program has 126 inmates, the largest number in the state. The Bladen Youth Center and New Hanover Correctional Center follow, each with 70 inmates working in the program.

"Hard work like this keeps inmates out of trouble while in prison and prepares them for a more productive life after imprisonment," Freeman said.

In the new year's snow storm, Governor Hunt offered inmate labor to local governments to help clear ice and snow. Inmates from 37 prisons worked 14,214 hours Jan. 6-22. During the icy cleanup, 243 correctional officers supervised the inmates, many a part of the Community Work Program.