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Maryland Correctional Enterprises makes the new ICC a “greenway”

The Inter-County Connector, Maryland’s first all-electronic toll road, has created a buzz for the hoped-for congestion relief it may provide for Prince George’s and Montgomery County’s east-west traffic between I-95 and I-270.

When the first stretch of the highway opened between Olney and the Rockville area a few weeks ago, travelers may have noticed the tens of thousands of young trees planted along the road. What they probably didn’t know is who planted the trees.

Maryland Correctional Enterprises (MCE), the prison industry arm of the Division of Correction that’s among the top eight prison industry groups in the nation, is responsible for much of that greenery. MCE inmates have planted an astonishing 46,160 trees along the ICC so far---with more to come. Included in that total was one ten-day blitz in which fourteen inmates planted ten thousand trees on 28.8 acres.

MCE maintains the trees, and even provides a two-year warranty on their healthy growth. In addition, its inmates installed gates, cleared invasive plants, and performed other tasks along the new highway.

Unlike in days of old, Maryland’s prison industry does far more than license plates and furniture (although those items are still staples). Today’s MCE inmates grow bay grasses, replenish oysters, and, yes, plant lots and lots of trees.

Next time you’re in that Montgomery-Prince George’s County corridor served by the Inter-County Connector, take a look at all those trees, and remember the folks responsible: Maryland Correctional Enterprises, employing 2,000 inmates with sales of $50 million annually, one of America’s top prison industry groups.


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