WINDSOR, N.C. — Inmates are building space for an additional 500 beds in the already filled-to-capacity Bertie County Correctional Institution.
Corrections Administrator Renoice Stancil said the project is critical and cost effective because it saves the state money on construction costs and benefits inmates by teaching them job skills and easing overcrowded living conditions, which have been blamed for everything from prison riots to increased inmate death rates.
Stancil added that the work keeps inmates “out of trouble” and helps them be more productive.
The construction program is designed to help complete necessary expansion projects in the economic downturn. The program currently employs 590 inmates to build minimum and medium-security dorms across the state.
Everything from masonry to electrical work is being done by those serving prison sentences.
It is estimated that the inmate construction project will save the state nearly $27 million. The first seven projects will add 2,700 prison beds in the state by 2012.
Inmates can earn up to $3 a day, which is significantly cheaper than the $25 an hour some contractors charge.
North Carolina Department of Correction officials say that having inmates work on prison construction projects saves taxpayers a significant amount of money.
Inmates can earn a certification from the Department of Labor to help transition the experience to jobs on the outside when they are released, which officials say can help lower recidivism rates.