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The Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders believes that inmates should work during their incarceration in order to provide service to the community. Beyond routine institutional work (cleaning and kitchens) inmate labor is used for janitorial, lawn maintenance and warehouse work in other County departments. Carefully supervised inmate work crews perform highway and park clean-up and have even been used in emergency service such as the Hurricane Floyd clean-up effort.

Many inmates work in the institution in janitorial roles. Others work in the laundry, the kitchen and maintenance shop. Carefully classified inmates work on the institutional grounds - maintaining lawns, cleaning parking lots and the grounds. All of this work reduces taxpayer expense for institutional operations. For example, over 50 inmates work in the kitchen every day to prepare and serve over 3,000 meals.

Due to the financial benefits of using inmate workers the County has expanded these services beyond the institution. Each day inmate workers perform janitorial, lawn care and warehouse functions in other County buildings - Central Vehicle Maintenance, Public Property, Purchasing, the County Warehouse, the Juvenile Detention Center, Highways and Bridges and the Records Retention Center. Inmate workers have also been assigned to municipal buildings in Old Bridge, East Brunswick, Spotswood and the Edgeboro Landfill.

The high priority placed on inmate service to the community led to the establishment of the Clean Communities Project in 1996. This work involves a crew of eight inmates being supervised in the performance of highway and park clean-up and improvement projects in townships throughout the County, as well as at the Kiddie Keep Well Camp in Edison and the American Cancer Society's warehouse in Fords. Additional service to non-profit organizations has included projects such as preparing mailings for the American Cancer Society (folding, collating, envelope stuffing and sorting envelopes by zip codes for mass mailings).

The community is well served by these projects and Middlesex County Corrections receives many expressions of appreciation and requests for additional work projects. Perhaps the most notable letter of recognition came from the Township of Dunellen:

"Hurricane Floyd wreaked havoc on Dunellen. Over 60% of the borough was under water, damage and destruction were everywhere. The inmates made a significant impact in returning the quality of life to Dunellen.

Due to the successful experience with community service, the Department recently initiated a Community Service Sentencing Program based upon day sentencing of specially selected offenders by the local Courts.

The Board of Chosen Freeholders will continue these valuable programs for the betterment of the citizens of Middlesex County.