North Carolina Department of Correction news release

More than 450 prisoners help in hurricane clean up


RALEIGH — More than 450 inmates are working today to help counties clean up the debris left behind by Hurricane Bonnie and to help farmers shore up tobacco knocked down by winds associated with the storm.

As Gov. Jim Hunt promised earlier this week, prison officials are working through the state's Emergency Response Center to provide squads of inmates from minimum security prisons to help with the clean-up effort. A total of 46 inmate crews were sent out this morning to communities along the coast and to tobacco fields in the central part of the state.

"We're working with Emergency Management and the Department of Agriculture to get inmates where they're needed to clear debris from neighborhoods and to help the farmers do everything they can to save their tobacco crops," said Correction Secretary Mack Jarvis. "Although it appears that Bonnie was no where near as damaging as Fran, we still want to do everything we can to help."

Prison managers have 19 inmate crews working in seven counties along the coast that were hardest hit by the storm. Correctional officers supervised inmates as they cleaned up debris, cleared ditches and did other manual tasks in Columbus, Bladen, Hyde, New Hanover, Pender, Brunswick and Carteret counties.

"We are basically cleaning up tree limbs, shingles and other debris in these areas," said Robert Barnhill, a correctional sergeant at New Hanover Correctional Center. "With this storm, the sand dunes held up real well, so we are not having to do a lot of sand removal like before with Hurricane Fran."

As the inmates continued to clean up the coast, 27 inmate work crews were dispatched to tobacco fields in Johnston, Wilson, Cumberland, Wake and Harnett counties to help farmers upright plants knocked down by the storm.

According to agriculture officials, the most valuable part of the tobacco crops were still in the fields of central North Carolina when Hurricane Bonnie came through. Ken Bateman with the agricultural extension office in Johnston County said the inmates are providing the farmers with an invaluable service.

"Right now the tobacco is leaning over, making it very hard to harvest," he said. "However, it is salvageable, as long as we can get in there and get the crops upright. We're real appreciative of the help we are getting from the inmates in standing it up."

Prison officials anticipate continuing the clean-up effort throughout the weekend, depending on the need.



Neuse Correctional Institution 4 Johnston County
Greene Correctional Center 9 Wilson County
Nash Correctional Institution 2 Wilson County
Fountain Correctional Center 1 Wilson County
Durham Correctional Center 1 Wake County
Umstead Correctional Center 2 Wake County
Duplin Correctional Center 5 Harnett County
Sanford Correctional Center 3 Harnett County
Bladen Youth Center 4 Columbus County
Bladen Youth Center 4 Bladen County
Hyde Correctional Institution 1 Hyde County
Carteret Correctional Center 2 Pender County
Carteret Correctional Center 2 Carteret County
New Hanover Correctional Center 1 New Hanover
New Hanover Correctional Center 2 Pender County
New Hanover Correctional Center 3 Brunswick County


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