CRANSTON, R.I. – June 6, 2007 – A crew of six Rhode Island Department of Corrections Minimum Security inmates, supervised by Correctional Officers Giovanni Perez, Ahmed Zaki, and Neil Theroux, and Lieutenant Michael Reis, has been hard at work this week helping to set up for the Special Olympics held at the University of Rhode Island and later to unload trucks of equipment back at Special Olympics headquarters in Warwick.
Special Olympics Rhode Island’s Director of Program Chris Hopkins, one of just eight paid staff members for the Special Olympics Rhode Island, is thrilled to have the additional help. While there are approximately 1,300 athletes competing and another 500 or so corporate volunteers involved during the games, it’s the set up before and the breakdown after that present a particular challenge. “We’ve always had a great working relationship with the DOC,” Hopkins notes, “and an extremely positive relationship with the crews.”
On an average day, the RIDOC sends out about 15 crews to various sites around the state, including many who fill Department of Transportation needs picking up litter and doing landscaping along the state’s highways and roads. This week, Minimum Security inmates are cleaning the Budlong Pool in Cranston and doing some interior painting at Cranston’s Oaklawn Public Library. Lieutenant Reis oversees all of the crews and seldom encounters problems.
“A lot of the guys don’t know a thing about landscaping, the first time they are assigned to a work crew” he relates, “so our officers work with them and teach them how to do things right. A lot of them wind up doing really and pursue landscaping jobs after they’re released.”
Businesses and organizations interested in hiring an inmate work crew are encouraged to contact the Minimum Security Warden’s Office at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections at (401) 462-1234.