Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

NEWS RELEASE 

For Immediate Release:

 February 16, 2001

 

Agency Acknowledges 20 Million Hours of Service to Ohio’s Communities

 

(London) --- Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) Director Reginald A. Wilkinson thanked Ohio wardens for supporting DRC’s ten-year community service effort. At a warden’s meeting held today at the London Correctional Institution, Wilkinson praised the managers’ input. "Ten years ago I challenged you to develop programs to help inmates "pay back" to the communities they've harmed. That year, with your enthusiastic leadership and with staff support, Ohio inmates completed over 50,000 hours of community service work. Last year we exceeded all expectations – devoting over 5 million hours of work to community service. Our grand total for the ten years exceeds 20 million hours!"

Recipients of community service work range from state and local agencies to churches and retirement homes. Each prison, parole region and central office also sponsors an Adopt-a-School, or an entire school district in some cases. Working for the betterment of schools and children is a favorite venue for the projects since many inmates have children of their own. Inmates make toys, learning aides and flash cards and build reading lofts, and bleachers. Twenty-one prisons have partnerships with Crayons to Computers, a free store for teachers, making seasonal decorations, book bags, learning games and more.

Animals, wild and domestic, are also a focus of prison labor. Nineteen institutions raise and socialize puppies for Pilot Dogs Inc. Others groom "pound puppies" and train them in basic obedience, making them more attractive to potential adopters. Two prisons, Marion Correctional and the Ohio Reformatory for Women, raise and release injured and orphaned Ohio wildlife on behalf of the Ohio Wildlife Center. Some of the other agencies receiving help from inmate labor are: Habitat for Humanity, Ronald McDonald House, Franciscan Mission, Children’s Hospitals, YMCA, Girl Scouts, the Heinzerling Foundation and many more.

Organizations are not the only beneficiaries of the work. The taxpayers benefit because much of the work performed by the prisoners could not normally be afforded by the receiving agencies. The prisons benefit because meaningful work relieves tension among inmates. The participant inmates benefit by learning new skills and good work habits as well as through the positive feeling one gets when performing good work for others. "Our agency operates under the umbrella of restorative justice," said Wilkinson. "Our role in restoring justice is to give offenders the opportunity to repair some of the harm they’ve done to society. In doing this, we may someday welcome them back into our society as productive members."

For more information contact DRC’s Public Information Office at 614-752-1150.