MD Inmates Work to Beautify Battlefield

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SHARPSBURG, MD - The location of the bloodiest battle in American history will be the site for an Independence Day celebration on July 4th, but before the fireworks and the fun, the battlefield is getting a bit greener, courtesy of some prisoners.

For many of the inmates, like Wendell Morris, they've not your typical visitor to Antietam Battlefield. Morris had never been there, until he was incarcerated and given the chance to beautify the park.

"A lot of these guys have never even heard of Antietam Battlefield, and now they are actually working here on the battlefield. It's been a great project for everyone," says MD Correctional Enterprises supervisor Ricky Martin.

The inmates are part of a program called "Restorative Justice" through the Maryland Division of Corrections. For the past four years, they have helped restore a piece of history, the Antietam Battlefield.

"They've done a lot of work over the past four years, restored trees, planted orchards, done some fence work and clean up work," says Mike Stouffer, of the MD Division of Corrections.

The beauty of the program is that the inmates help preserve the battlefield, while helping themselves in the process.

"I like doing it because it's something positive. It's something you can give to someone, someone you might not even know. People can benefit from these trees in many ways," says Wendell. "To be a part of this is very, very special to me."

Martin agrees. "To start something and to actually be able to finish something for the first time for some of these guys is the whole key. They've never finished anything."

"It teaches them responsible skills, it teaches them how to work and they see the results of what they do, and that's a good feeling," explains Stouffer.

The battlefield will be the site for WHAG's Town Proud celebration on July 3rd.