Offenders help communities by volunteering their time
Cities, towns, counties and not-for-profit organizations needing a little help with projects now have an option.
And it's free.
The Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle offers work crews -- called the Community Offender Labor Lines -- that will come to your location and do work that might not otherwise get done in a timely fashion.
"Ever since the minimum security camp opened (in 1994) we've had this opportunity, and it's kind of been a word-of-mouth thing," WVCF Public Information Officer Rich Larsen said. "We've never really advertised it ... but it's kind of grown throughout the years."
The increase in popularity means more organization is needed. That's why WVCF has scheduled a meeting for Dec. 16 for anyone interested in having the work crews help them. It will be at 9:30 a.m. at the facility's firehouse, which is accessible from old U.S. 41.
The work crews are available for those in Greene, Sullivan, Knox, Vigo, Daviess, and Vanderburgh counties.
"We're having the meeting to find out what the needs are," Larsen said.
"With all the (financial and personnel) cutbacks (cities, towns and counties) are facing, with all the programs ending, we want to help make the (work crews) available as much as possible."
A work crew can consist of up to 10 offenders, "and sometimes more depending on the situation," Larsen said. "When we helped out with the massive flooding a few years back, we had several volunteer crews."
The offenders recently helped put up Christmas lights at Humphreys Park in Linton.
"We've done work for the city of Linton in the past. Crews decorated the park, and then when vandals hit, the offenders came back and helped out again," Larsen explained.
"We've also helped with a couple of Habitat for Humanity projects in that area."
The work crews are supervised by an WVCF employee.
"We have a correctional officer assigned to the crew, and that officer will coordinate with the community in terms of what they need done," Larsen said. "We've got an officer in the line of sight at all times.
"We've had no major problems with the crews. A couple of years ago we had a crew assigned to INDOT and DNR, and there was a problem with one crew at Shakamak (State Park). They took immediate action and it was taken care of."
To be assigned to a work crew an offender must be convicted of a non-violent offense.
What does the offender get out the program?
"They get a chance to be away from our environment for a period of time. The vast majority say they like the sense of giving back to the community, sort of making up for the wrong they've done," Larsen said.