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Inmates could be used for projects at C&O Canal park

September 01, 2007|By ERIN JULIUS

Inmates from the state prisons south of Hagerstown might be used to perform maintenance work at the C&O Canal National Historical Park, park Superintendent Kevin Brandt said Friday.

Regular staff, contractors and volunteers currently perform most of the work at the C&O Canal, Brandt said. Inmate labor would not replace any current staff, but would be used to complete special projects, he said.

In addition to maintenance work, inmates working inside the prison could construct benches, picnic tables and lock gates to the specifications of the canal, Brandt said.

Performing the work also helps inmates gain necessary work skills, and the park provides any equipment the inmates need, Brandt said.

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For more than a decade, the park has used Federal Bureau of Prisons inmates based out of a work camp in the Cumberland, Md., area to mow grass and clear trees in the western end of the park, Brandt said.

The inmates who work in the park are minimum security, and an armed officer doesn't need to guard them, said Brandt, who stressed that the safety of visitors to the park is first and foremost.

Brandt met Wednesday with Gary Maynard, secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, who spoke at a Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Maynard loves to put inmates to work, he said Wednesday morning at the meeting.

"I get more out of inmates than most," Maynard said. "Tell me where the dirtiest, ugliest place is, and I'll clean it up."

Maynard specifically mentioned the C&O Canal during his speech as one of the sites inmates could help maintain.

By the end of next week, Brandt will send a list of specific ideas to Maynard's office.

Maynard also extended the offer of inmate labor to Washington County Commissioners President John F. Barr.

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