Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and Smart, Green & Growing
Although not typically associated with the environment or economical growth in Maryland, the State’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) is playing a key role in the state’s Smart, Green and Growing initiative. Through our available resources such as inmate work crews, we have engaged with many Maryland communities and other state agencies to foster projects like planting trees, harvesting oysters, cleaning dump sites and much more. Our building practices for offices and correctional facilities under our jurisdiction have also been mindful of the sustainability of Maryland’s precious resources and impact on the environment.
GOAL: One Million Trees
Under Secretary Gary D. Maynard, DPSCS has set a goal of planting one million trees throughout Maryland using inmate labor. We began this effort on Arbor Day in April of 2008 and through the end of the year had 38,000 trees in the ground. In 2009, DPSCS along with DNR planted 152,000 seedlings within eight Maryland's State Park locations. In conjunction with the State Highway Administration, DPSCS has also supplied a crew to plant 40,000 trees as part of the Inter County Connector mitigation project. Local communities and parks have also benefited from the trees. Additional trees have been planted as saplings on institution farms to be cared for by resident inmates until they are large enough to be re-planted on public property. Not only will this effort beautify Maryland and provide invaluable environmental benefits for generations to come, it also positively impacts our offender work crews by allowing them the opportunity to learn transferable job skills while reintegrating into society.
DPSCS worked with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to create 1,000 cages in 2008 that are given to citizens living along the Tred Avon River to use their own piers to help rejuvenate oyster populations in the Chesapeake Bay. Inmates at the Eastern Correctional Institution crafted the cages out of materials supplied by DNR. In 2009, Maryland Correctional Enterprises (MCE) took over the construction of these cages to increase the number available to citizens who are willing to partake.
Maryland Correctional Enterprises, the industry arm of the Division of Correction, will also collect seeds to harvest and grow native bay grasses in conjunction with DNR at a greenhouse in Western Maryland. In June of 2009 crews will plant 20,000 S. Alterniflora grasses on Poplar Island. 8,000 S. Alterniflora as well as 3,500 beach grasses and 200 shrubs for erosion control will also be planted on Coaches Island. Fencing to keep out animals such as geese that can inhibit the grasses growth will also be installed on the islands.
Over the years many of our parks, road ways and neighborhoods have become dumping grounds for unwanted trash and debris. Across Maryland, DPSCS has taken inmate work crews to places such as Dan's Rock Overlook, the Alleghany Highlands Trail and various local towns to clean graffiti, pick up trash, rebuild crumbling structures and perform other environmentally beneficial tasks. The Western Correctional Institution also grows plants in a green-house on location that are then donated to "Let's Beautify Cumberland" each year. In Baltimore, two notorious dumping sites in the neighborhoods of Barclay and Curtis Bay were cleared specifically by inmates who were from those areas of the city to give them the opportunity to give back to the communities they victimized. On the Eastern Shore, the Poplar Hill Pre-release Facility removed trees, logs and other blockages from drainage ditches in conjunction with the Maryland Department of Agriculture in 2009. More locations are also being identified by MDA to continue this effort.
Our corrections Pre-release system embarked on a recycling project in 2008 that kept several tons of debris out of our landfills. 70,000 bricks from the dilapidated Baltimore Coliseum were collected, cleaned and stored by a work crew to be re-used for projects such as signage around our Department, as well as the State.
Maryland Correctional Enterprises has also expanded their agricultural program to include 26 acres of crops as well as 24 acres of apple trees on the Western Maryland prison complex to grow fresh/local produce for state facilities in the area.
Green Options for Government Offices
Maryland Correctional Enterprises is the premier supplier of furniture for state agencies in Maryland, and also sells to other tax supported entities such as local and non-profit organizations. In 2008, MCE took initiative to get Greenguard certification for several of their furniture lines so that agencies could make sound, green decisions when outfitting their offices while also supporting this key rehabilitative program.