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Packages from the pen

Prison provides campus with furnishings

Prison provides campus with furnishings

December 15, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Truckloads of desks and tables - crafted by prison inmates - arrived at the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown campus Tuesday morning.

Under the supervision of correctional officers, other inmates moved the furniture inside, helping to fill the mostly empty education center six weeks before it opens.

The shipment was part of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of furniture earmarked for the center.

C. David Warner III, executive director of the education center, said the three tractor-trailer loads brought in Tuesday will be followed by nine more loads on Dec. 28, 29 and 30.

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He said there are about 24 classrooms and 42 offices to furnish at the West Washington Street campus, which has been transformed from rundown to new through a $13 million renovation.

A list Warner provided of equipment and furnishings shows that $383,000 worth of cabinets, desks, tables, credenzas, bookcases, file cabinets, chairs, clocks, wastebaskets and more was ordered.

Warner said that as a state entity, the education center was required to buy its furniture from State Use Industries, which is part of the Maryland Division of Correction.

Through State Use Industries, prison inmates in Maryland produce graphics, textiles, furniture and miscellaneous items. They also do work such as entering data, restoring furniture and clipping news stories.

Prison inmates getting close to their release dates delivered Tuesday's furniture.

Gary Burrell, 44, of Baltimore, said he has one year left on his six-year sentence for armed robbery.

Burrell said he's a military veteran, a plumber and a weight lifter. He said he's also studying to be a minister.

Eugene Baugh, another inmate lifting and toting furniture Tuesday, said he has 12 months left on an 18-month sentence. He said he was convicted of violating his parole on a second-degree assault case.

Baugh, 36, of Salisbury, Md., said he's a building subcontractor by trade and he expects to return to that when his sentence is completed.

Both men are housed at the Maryland Correctional Training Center, south of Hagerstown.

Baugh said his work crew has delivered furniture to the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., Towson University in Towson, Md., and other schools.

Getting out and working "is a big change of pace" from being confined, he said.

Now that the furniture has arrived, about 120 computers and monitors that had been sitting in boxes at the education center can be unpacked, Warner said.

The only spaces that might not have furniture when the semester beings are the open study and reading nooks on each floor, he said.

He said he didn't order couches, coffee tables and chairs for those nooks, or lounges, because he's waiting to see if everything else stays within budget - and so far it has.

Three schools will hold classes at the education center when it opens on Jan. 24 - Frostburg State University, University of Maryland University College in Adelphi, Md., and the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Warner is not sure how many students will be enrolled at the center, but, based on about 385 students now attending Frostburg State's Hagerstown campus, he's expecting 400 to 450.

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