Inmates can help clean up city, county, says Maynard
07/31/2012
Cumberland Times-News

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CUMBERLAND — State inmates can clean up the dirtiest location in any Maryland city or county, if only local government officials would simply ask.

Gary Maynard“You remember the blizzard and storm of two years ago?” asked Secretary Gary Maynard of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

“After we took care of the needs at our institutions, the inmates were taken into Baltimore and cleared the snow from 52 bus stops, 72 storm drains and 150 fire hydrants. We’d take a bunch of inmates with shovels to a bus stop and the snow would fly and 10 minutes later it would be clear and ready to use.”

Maynard spoke Monday during his annual visit to the Times-News to talk about the state of affairs of public safety and correctional services.

“I tell city and county officials to call me and we can make their curbs compliant for people with disabilities. We can clean up cemeteries. We can take the dirtiest place in their city or county and make it clean. They say they will call me, but often I never hear from them.”

Using Community Development Block Grants and other funding sources, minimum-security inmates, some highly trained for specialized pro-jects, will take on projects that improve public safety.

In Allegany and Garrett counties, Maynard points out, there is a daily average of 23 inmates out on work detail. Their most visible public work is as State Highway Administration crews along state highways.

It’s all part of the Restorative Justice Program. The inmates restore portions of the state and in the process restore themselves as well.

“Inmates want to pay back for their crimes,” Maynard said.

The secretary said inmates restore and maintain public cemeteries in Maryland.

“We’re trying to hook up with Rocky Gap to do that kind of work there.”

Maynard said one of his favorite projects for inmates is graffiti removal. In the past, inmates from the Western Correctional Institution re-moved graffiti from rocks at the Dan’s Mountain overlook.

“We think it’s a great program and we are open to it,” said Michael McKay, Allegany County commission president. “We had a meeting with Secretary Maynard and pointed him to the LaVale Civic Improvement Association where there is gravel on the sidewalks that could be swept off.”

The possibilities are many, according to Maynard. An annual calendar touting successes is printed and includes:

  • During the summer of 2011, inmate crews helped harvest nearly 200,000 pounds of Eastern Shore produce that was donated to the Maryland Food Bank.
  • Offenders planted 38,700 shoreline grasses on Poplar Island.
  • Inmates trained in masonry constructed landmark signs for Sykesville’s Warfield Complex.
  • Via Habitat for Humanity, did carpentry and drywall hanging to repair homes occupied by low-income owners.
  • Filled six Dumpsters with storm debris that washed onto the beach at Sandy Point State Park following 2011 hurricanes.
  • Helped to repopulate oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Painted Town Hall in Williamsport.

"Baltimore was going to close seven of its city swimming pools," Maynard said. "Inmates repaired fences and bathhouses and the city only had to close one pool. The inmates know that pools are important to keep young people occupied in a good way and keep them out of trouble."

"Just call," Maynard said.

Chief of Staff Rhea Harris may be reached at 410-339-5095.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.