When it comes to our roadways, rehabilitation is a term we often hear during the summer months. Long, harsh winters take quite a toll on our roads, and each summer, the 10 districts of the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) send road crews to repair the damages. If you take a closer look, you’ll see another form of rehabilitation happening along our highways, as prison inmates - part of our state’s inmate worker program - assist WVDOH crews with roadway repairs.
Each summer, inmates from correctional facilities located across the state hit the road and go to work as part of WVDOH road crews in all 55 counties. From litter collection and patching roads to cutting grass and building concrete pads, inmate work crews play a critical role in keeping our highways clean.
WVDOH’s inmate worker program brings together inmates from a variety of backgrounds and environments and encourages personal growth, helping to facilitate a responsible transition from life in a corrections facility to becoming a contributing member of our communities.
Take, for example, WVDOH’s District 2 in Huntington. It employs inmates from a work release center - a transitional facility to help reintegrate inmates into society - offering work programming and accountability to help inmates transition back into their personal routines. These inmates are provided with resources and job skills and training to help them find an employment upon their release.
This year, West Virginia Division of Corrections inmates from 12 different facilities across the state participated in the inmate work program. In 2013, inmates undertook 353,475 hours of work, and in 2014, the number jumped to more than 450,000 hours.
This work program is a collaborative reinvestment initiative that is working for West Virginia and our correctional system. By providing inmates with opportunities to work alongside WVDOH road crews and perform substantial, fulfilling tasks, we are working to give our inmates a sense of purpose and self-worth. In return, their hard work continues to better the landscape and highway system of the Mountain State.