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Inmates Volunteer Time in Exchange for Home-cooked Meal at New Germany State Park
GRANTSVILLE — Facing upwards of 18 months incarceration, inmates at the Garrett County Detention Facility have found a new way to give back to the community by volunteering at New Germany State Park. On the first Saturday of every month, Park Manager Lt. Mike Gregory plays host to as many as eight inmates who clear snow, wash park vehicles and restock firewood in exchange for a home-cooked meal.
”These inmates are great workers and we’ve never had a problem with any of them in the year-and-a-half that we’ve had the program,” said Lt. Gregory. “I think the home-cooked meal is a real incentive for the inmates. They get to do something good for the community and in return, I personally cook them a meal. It’s really a win-win situation.”
Maryland law allows for inmates to perform special projects and participate in community service. Inmates in the New Germany State Park program are pre-screened before they are allowed to participate. They have been sentenced and have been classified as a minimum security risk; no inmates in the program are serving sentences for sexual offenses or crimes of a serious nature.
“We realize the importance of maintaining a good working relationship with county and state agencies and this program helps us do just that,” said Capt. Larry Gnegy, Administrator of the Garrett County Detention Center. “The inmates gain some personal satisfaction out of doing a good day’s work and as a result, we tend to have fewer problems at the Detention Center. They couldn’t be treated any better than at New Germany State Park.”
The inmates are closely supervised by a correctional officer and park staff, and if they commit any infractions while volunteering, they become ineligible for the program. According to Gnegy, no inmate has ever turned down the opportunity to volunteer at the park and several have volunteered every month during their incarceration.
Marylanders who are sentenced to community service often fulfill that requirement by volunteering at one of the state parks. The program at New Germany is an example of another way that Maryland’s state parks reach out to people in constructive and meaningful ways.
March 3, 2005
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 446,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov