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April 4, 2011

Inmates help spruce up park for Opening Day

For those of you about to enjoy the first pitch of Opening Day at Camden Yards, remember that inmates helped make the park look pretty.

That's right, prisoners from the Eastern Shore Correctional Institution "stripped, sanded, re-stained and re-varnished players' lockers," according to a news release from the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

And inmates from the Patuxent Institution in Jessup made signs and decals.

It's all part of Maryland Correctional Enterprises, which employees more than 2,000 inmates doing $50 million in business around the state. Inmates have planted trees at Antietam Battlefield and helped restore the shoreline along the Chesapeake Bay. Yes, they also make license plates, but they also sew every flag flown at state buildings.

In the past, inmates worked to shovel snow out of the M&T Bank Stadium, "allowing the Ravens to play within hours of a blizzard," and planted flower beds and shrubbery. The inmates are in the pre-release program, meaning they are nearing freedom and the program is designed to help them enter the real world.

For more details, read the statement from prison officials:

Maryland Correctional Enterprises Had a Hand
In Prepping Oriole Park for Opening Day

Inmates made signs, restored lockers, helped honor Ernie Tyler

One of America’s premier prison industry agencies played a key role in helping Oriole Park at Camden Yards prepare for the Orioles’ home opener. Maryland Correctional Enterprises (MCE), a top ten prison industry employing more than 2,000 inmates and doing $50 million in annual business, helped equip the ballpark with signs, decals, and player locker restoration.

MCE, with plants statewide from Cumberland to the Eastern Shore, sells only to non-profits and government agencies (including the Maryland Stadium Authority); it is a totally self-supporting job skills program for offenders. The prison industry is far from the license plate maker that many recall from years gone by.  Today, MCE inmates restore woodlands and orchards at Antietam Battlefield, plant shoreline-restoring bay grasses, and provide cages and grow spat to protect and replenish the Chesapeake Bay’s depleted oyster population. MCE still makes license plates, but its inmates also sew every flag flown at state buildings; do computer-assisted office design; provide signs and graphics; and restore and make office furniture, among many other things.

For Oriole Park, inmates from Eastern Correctional Institution, the Division of Correction’s largest prison south of Salisbury, stripped, sanded, re-stained, and re-varnished players’ lockers. Inmates from the MCE sign shop at Patuxent Institution in Jessup made ADA signs and various decals. And when the home dugout was named in honor of recently-deceased umpire attendant Ernie Tyler, inmates made a sign for that as well.

In the past, MCE inmates have also worked to plan and plant flower beds and shrubbery at the park. And, separately, Division of Correction pre-release inmates have helped remove tons of snow from the stadium next-door, allowing the Ravens to play within hours of a blizzard.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 1:32 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Prisons

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.

Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.

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