RALEIGH - Although the state fair is still two weeks away, up to 15 inmates are already at the fairgrounds working hard to prepare for opening day. Their jobs include sweeping, cleaning and setting up. The inmates must clean the livestock area where cows, swine, sheep, goats and other animals are kept. They will also place straw or bedding where needed and assistant painters and carpenters.
"It's standard for the Department of Correction to have inmates working at the state fair," said Correction Secretary Franklin Freeman. "This department puts inmates to work on a regular basis. Gov. Jim Hunt and I believe that this is in the best interest of the state. Offenders sentenced to prison should come in expecting to serve their time working."
The inmates spend all day working at the fairgrounds helping to complete a variety of tasks including landscaping and maintenance. When the fair is not in session, inmates continue working at the fairgrounds year-round. They must keep the grounds and buildings clean and set up chairs, tables, stages and other equipment such as the hockey rink in Dorton Arena. Each of the inmates working at the fair is assigned to Wake Correctional Center, a minimum security prison on Rock Quarry road in Raleigh. Inmates transfer to minimum security prisons as they near the end of their sentence.
"Using inmate labor saves the State Fair a lot of money every year," said Sam Rand, fair manager. "The inmates do a good job working out here. We're making good use of their services."