(10/29/13) - We are one night away from Angel's Night - a night that has seen
its share of arsons in years past.
In Saginaw, a group of people were boarding up vacant homes Tuesday. Some of them may have actually caused problems in the city in the past.
Saginaw needs some help and most of the people doing this work will need help in getting jobs once they leave prison. Ten inmates at the Saginaw Correctional Facility in Freeland and six people on parole or probation were under the watchful eye of Michigan Department of Corrections employees and Saginaw police officers as they boarded up vacant homes and cleared brush.
"These are minimum security prisoners," said Lt. Todd Massick, with the Department of Corrections,
It's not the first time state prisoners have worked in the city.
"Cutting grass, cleaning up vacant lots," said Saginaw Building Inspector John Stemple.
Stemple says there were fewer resources this year for the city's Arson Watch program, so the free labor helps.
"The houses that we are doing tonight is in an area where we've had some arson fires," he said.
Companies like Home Depot and Hammer Restoration donated supplies and labor as well.
The inmates are part of a program called Prison Build. Past projects include building beds, dressers, picnic tables, even cabins. Most of that work was done on prison property.
"The prisoners are happy to get out and they are happy to come and help give back to the community," Massick said.
"It gives them an opportunity to see what it is going to be like once they get out and see what they could be doing once they get out there and use those skill sets that they have learned," Stemple said.
The inmates could not be identified.
Jim Shafley lives nearby and says having inmates board up the homes makes sense.
"Bible tells us you to teach the ones that have been stealing to work with their hands. The Bible tells you that, so that's what they are doing and I think that's awesome," he said.
The city and the Department of Corrections hope to have prisoners do other clean-up or maintenance projects in Saginaw.
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