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Free labor

Published December 03. 2009 05:00PM

Last year, Lansford borough needed some serious maintenance work done to its borough office atop the American Hose Company, including repairs to stop a roof leak. But the borough was strapped financially.

Inmates from the Carbon County Prison were transported to the site, did the work, and in exchange had their sentences reduced.

When the Lehighton Municipal Swimming Pool was renovated this past summer, prisoners from the Carbon County jail did some paint work and other labor and saved the borough a lot of money.

The Dimmick Memorial Library in Jim Thorpe presently needs some work done. It's being done by prisoners.

The program which lets non-violent offenders have their prison time reduced by doing community projects is good. It has a lot of pluses.

Among them:

• It gives prisoners a chance to have their jail time reduced.

• It gives these prisoners self-esteem, knowing they did something productive and good for the community.

• It allows the prisoners to gain some skills and work ethic, which can potentially be used for future employment opportunities.

Most of all, their work is saving taxpayer dollars and getting needed projects - otherwise unaffordable - to be accomplished.

The program is one which could be expanded. There are a lot of communities and organizations which probably don't know about it.

Furthermore, merely getting the prisoners released earlier saves taxpayers money. It is very expensive to house prisoners.

Obviously individuals serving time did offenses and have a debt to pay to society. Doing work like fixing walls and even the roof at the Lansford borough hall, improving the shower facilities at a public swimming pool, and doing maintenance at an historic library certainly are assisting with that debt payment.

Not all prisoners deserve to be included in such a program. But those inmates serving time for minor offenses not only are helping the community, but getting a boost themselves to leading much more productive lives.

By Ron Gower

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