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March 27, 2011

NBCI, WCI projects nearly done

Majority of employees doing construction at prisons considered local workers.

CRESAPTOWN — Construction projects that created 180 jobs at North Branch Correctional Institution and the neighboring Western Correctional Institution on U.S. Route 220 are nearing completion, according to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

At NBCI, construction of a Maryland Correctional Enterprises upholstery shop that will provide about 100 jobs for inmates began in March 2010. MCE is reportedly one of the top 10 prison industries in the nation. It employs about 2,000 inmates and had sales of more than $50 million last fiscal year.

The $4.4 million construction project created 85 jobs with an average of 23 workers on-site every day of the project.

“About 60 percent of the workers are considered local. While the general contractor is headquartered in Pittsburgh, 10 of the 14 subcontractors are Maryland-based companies,” said DPSCS spokeswoman Erin Julius.

At WCI, construction of a vocational education addition onto the education building is under way at a cost of $6.78 million.

The building project created 95 jobs with an average of 19 workers on-site daily.

The building was included in the original design for the prison and will contain four shops. The kinds of shops that will operate in the new building have not yet been determined.

“About 70 percent of the workers on this project are considered local. The general contractor is headquartered out of Columbia, Md., and 17 of the 23 subcontractors are Maryland-based companies,” said Julius.

Division of Correction Commissioner J. Michael Stouffer said the “projects help fulfill two elements of our mission.”

“They contribute to public safety because, after their release, the inmates who learned and worked in these shops will have skills. They can become productive citizens. They keep inmates busy. Idleness is a threat to security,” said the commissioner.

As of Wednesday, there were 1,700 inmates at WCI and 1,449 at NBCI, according to Julius.

The construction project at NBCI is scheduled for completion in the middle of July while the building at WCI is expected to be completed in early September.

Contact Jeffrey Alderton at jlalderton@times-news.com.

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