JUNE 26, 1996

While school may be out for students, school is in for prison inmates as they begin massive cleanup and maintenance projects across the state. The heat wave has turned into a wave of work for inmates such as the ones at Anson Correctional Center. They'll be painting the outside of Wingate Elementary School. Inmates from Catawba Correctional Center will be clearing undergrowth between Fred T. Foard High School and Jacobs Fork Middle School in Hickory.

This is the second summer that inmates have been working in Gov. Jim Hunt's Community Work Program. School officials have nothing but praise for the inmates' assistance.

"It's extremely helpful," said Betty Walston, principal at West Greene School in Snow Hill. "We're moving into a new wing added to the school and we had only one custodian working through the summer. We would be in a mess without the inmates' help."

Those sentiments were echoed in Marion by Glenwood Elementary School Principal Haskell Davis. "This is wonderful," said Davis. "One inmate laid carpet in two classrooms and a hallway saving us $500. Other inmates polished doorknobs and cleaned fans, windows, and blinds. People tell me that this school looks the best it's ever looked."

More than 600 minimum custody inmates are working in community work programs across the state. In addition to cleaning schools, inmates also clean other public buildings, parks, tire dumps, cemeteries, and lakes.

"Governor Hunt believes strongly that every able-bodied inmate should be working," said Correction Secretary Franklin Freeman. "Inmates who practice the work ethic will have an easier transition back into society."

North Carolinians with ideas about inmate work projects are encouraged to call the inmate work hotline at 1-800-661-7161. Inmates are allowed to work only on public projects and there is no charge to local governments or state agencies.