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Inmates giving back, from inside Correctional Centre in Bishop’s Falls


There are big things happening in a very small space at the Bishop’s Falls Correctional Centre (BFCC).

In a workshop no more than 8 by 12 feet, is a hobby shop program run by correctional officers, powered by inmates and maintained by generosity.

For the last six years the BFCC has operated what is essentially a wood working program for inmates, but with a twist.

Some of the projects these inmates volunteer to work on are destined for local communities. The materials are purchased and supplied by the community or non-profit organization, then the skills and labour are provided by the inmates.

“It’s a program that was started here to allow inmates to gain skill while they are incarcerated, a correctional officer actually runs the program,” according to classification officer Jacqueline Warford. “He had quite a bit of experience in the carpentry field prior to becoming a correctional officer and teaches the inmates the skills so they can take them with them.”

There is no real guideline for who can avail of the shop. Anyone from community groups to not for profit organizations can approach the institution if they need a hand. The inmates do not leave the correctional facility. All work is completed in the shop, and in an area of the yard designated for shop projects.

The first project completed was for the Point Leamington Parks and Recreation Committee. It is a giant wooden train, roughly ¼ scale of the real thing.

In addition to her duties at BFCC, Warford is the former co-chair of the Point Leamington Parks and Recreation committee. Last year the committee had received a grant to build up a day park in the community, and when the original plan fell through, the hobby shop saved the day.

“Point Leamington Parks and Rec would never have been able to afford to build this,” Warford told The Advertiser. “We had $3,000 and the materials were over $1,800 — if we had to pay the labour it wouldn’t happen

“I spoke to Mr. Sooley who runs the shop, we got together, got the plans, and they (inmates) constructed it. Since then there’ve been other trains across the province.”

So far the inmates have built trains for Point Leamington, Grand Falls-Windsor, Northern Arm, Port aux Basque and Appleton and there is another under construction. Trains aren’t the only product steaming out the yard. One of the current projects underway is a gazebo for the Lions Max Simms Camp in Central.

Warford says all things considered, it gives the inmates a sense of accomplishment and pride.

“One of the inmates at some point said he feels like he’s serving (the community) while he’s serving (time),” said Warford.

While there is limited space, all inmates get a chance to participate if they are inclined. While only four to seven inmates are “in the program” at any given time.

Larger projects, like the gazebo for Max Simms Camp, require a larger work force. This allows inmates not directly in the program to participate in construction and they

are proud of their work. In the tiny shop where the work is done are two very large binders with photos of every project completed. The pride is evident as they show the works created over the years, it does not matter to Inmate 1 if the projects are all his, the program is all that matters. While The Advertiser is unable to disclose the identity of the inmates, the opportunity was provided to discuss the project with an inmate.

“I think it’s a really great program, takes a lot of stress off while you’re incarcerated,” Inmate 1 said. “It makes you feel great.

“You’re doing stuff for the community, for a lot of people out there, it gives the kids something to play with, and they need it. It let’s you feel productive while your incarcerated.”

 

patrick.murphy@tc.tc

In a workshop no more than 8 by 12 feet, is a hobby shop program run by correctional officers, powered by inmates and maintained by generosity.

For the last six years the BFCC has operated what is essentially a wood working program for inmates, but with a twist.

Some of the projects these inmates volunteer to work on are destined for local communities. The materials are purchased and supplied by the community or non-profit organization, then the skills and labour are provided by the inmates.

“It’s a program that was started here to allow inmates to gain skill while they are incarcerated, a correctional officer actually runs the program,” according to classification officer Jacqueline Warford. “He had quite a bit of experience in the carpentry field prior to becoming a correctional officer and teaches the inmates the skills so they can take them with them.”

There is no real guideline for who can avail of the shop. Anyone from community groups to not for profit organizations can approach the institution if they need a hand. The inmates do not leave the correctional facility. All work is completed in the shop, and in an area of the yard designated for shop projects.

The first project completed was for the Point Leamington Parks and Recreation Committee. It is a giant wooden train, roughly ¼ scale of the real thing.

In addition to her duties at BFCC, Warford is the former co-chair of the Point Leamington Parks and Recreation committee. Last year the committee had received a grant to build up a day park in the community, and when the original plan fell through, the hobby shop saved the day.

“Point Leamington Parks and Rec would never have been able to afford to build this,” Warford told The Advertiser. “We had $3,000 and the materials were over $1,800 — if we had to pay the labour it wouldn’t happen

“I spoke to Mr. Sooley who runs the shop, we got together, got the plans, and they (inmates) constructed it. Since then there’ve been other trains across the province.”

So far the inmates have built trains for Point Leamington, Grand Falls-Windsor, Northern Arm, Port aux Basque and Appleton and there is another under construction. Trains aren’t the only product steaming out the yard. One of the current projects underway is a gazebo for the Lions Max Simms Camp in Central.

Warford says all things considered, it gives the inmates a sense of accomplishment and pride.

“One of the inmates at some point said he feels like he’s serving (the community) while he’s serving (time),” said Warford.

While there is limited space, all inmates get a chance to participate if they are inclined. While only four to seven inmates are “in the program” at any given time.

Larger projects, like the gazebo for Max Simms Camp, require a larger work force. This allows inmates not directly in the program to participate in construction and they

are proud of their work. In the tiny shop where the work is done are two very large binders with photos of every project completed. The pride is evident as they show the works created over the years, it does not matter to Inmate 1 if the projects are all his, the program is all that matters. While The Advertiser is unable to disclose the identity of the inmates, the opportunity was provided to discuss the project with an inmate.

“I think it’s a really great program, takes a lot of stress off while you’re incarcerated,” Inmate 1 said. “It makes you feel great.

“You’re doing stuff for the community, for a lot of people out there, it gives the kids something to play with, and they need it. It let’s you feel productive while your incarcerated.”

 

patrick.murphy@tc.tc

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