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Male Inmates Help Build New Dorm at Women's Prison

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RALEIGH — TheNorth Carolina Department of Correctionis putting more inmates to work, but the initiative is posing some unique challenges.

Eighty-five medium-custody inmates are getting started on another construction project for the DOC. The project is a new dormitory for theNorth Carolina Correctional Institution for Women, and it marks the first time the department has used male inmates at a female facility.

The decision was made in order to keep costs down.

The total cost of the new facility is $4.4 million. Using inmates for the project will save the state about 20 percent or $880,000.

"We find that using inmates saves the state money, and so we felt like it was a good opportunity to do that here in these critical times when we're trying to save money," says Dorothy Ledford, inmate work coordinator.

The decision to save money required extra precautions at the women's prison.

In addition to a screened fence, which prevents female inmates from seeing the workers and vice versa, three security towers were installed.

Guards are armed at two of the towers, and each guard has a remote control device to stop heavy equipment if it comes too close to the perimeter fence.

"We realize that we do have the issues of female inmates and we are also in a community," Ledford says. "We are trying to protect the community, protect other inmates and build a very fine facility very quickly."

The new women's dorm will house 208 inmates and should be completed in 15 months.


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