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MCTC inmates say working beats 'warehousing'

July 15, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WILLIAMSPORT -- Even when it's hot outside, Chuck Raikes, Phillip Wilson and Bruce Worrell are glad to leave prison each day to do physical labor for the town of Williamsport.

They're the inmate crew that's been working for the town since mid-May.

All are in prerelease, nearing the end of their sentences, at Maryland Correctional Training Center, south of Hagerstown.

On Monday, they were at River View Cemetery, mowing grass and trimming weeds around headstones. They've painted curbs, picked up trash, cleaned alleys - sometimes as a group, sometimes split up.

Worrell said it's been a helpful jump on post-prison life.

"We're going to have to do that when we can get released, so it's good training," he said.

Worrell, 25, of Washington, D.C., said he has about 90 days left on his five-year sentence for having an unauthorized handgun.

Each day, the inmates learn something new from Williamsport's public works employees, who supervise them.

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Wilson said the knowledge he has gained and the teamwork he's experienced should help him get a job when he's released. He's thinking about working as a crane operator and also wants to continue as a personal trainer.

"Years ago, I didn't know how to cut grass," he said. "Now, I'm a professional."

Wilson, 35, of Baltimore, said he's serving time for a violation.

"I enjoy doing what I'm doing," said Raikes, 44, of Hagerstown, who plans to return to woodwork as a career.

He said he has about 100 days left to serve on a five-year sentence for second-degree assault.

"In the beginning, we all made mistakes with our actions ...," Wilson said. "We'd rather be out here working than be warehoused."

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