When “Restorative Justice” Means Restoring American History: Independence Day Project At Antietam National Battlefield
Maryland Correctional Enterprises Once Again Leads the Way
With Innovative Inmate Labor Projects
Towson, MD (July 1, 2010)--- Maryland Correctional Enterprises (MCE), the prison industry arm of the Maryland Division of Correction (DOC), in conjunction with Antietam National Battlefield, today highlighted its use of inmate labor to help restore one of the nation’s most storied and best preserved historic sites during a pre-Independence Day event.
MCE inmates are now working on their latest project at the battlefield: restoring an orchard that existed at the time of the bloodiest single-day battle ever on American soil. Standing along Bloody Lane near the battlefield’s Observation Tower, park superintendent John Howard, DOC Commissioner J. Michael Stouffer and MCE CEO Steve Shiloh discussed the significance of having inmates not only learning skills and restoring the environment, but playing a critical part in restoring history as well.
“This is the latest in a series of efforts to connect inmates with our history,” said Commissioner Stouffer. “It puts them in a position to learn and appreciate something invaluable, all the while learning skills and working for one of the nation’s top prison industries.”
MCE inmates have now helped restore 31 battlefield acres, planting 3,870 trees in the West Woods, East Woods, North Woods, and Piper Orchard. The 170 trees in the orchard were originally planted by inmates in 2007.
Once thought of as just the makers of license plates, signs, and uniforms, under the O’Malley administration MCE’s CEO Steve Shiloh has taken “thinking beyond the razor wire” to a new level. MCE is involved in a number of important environment- and history-restoring endeavors. From building thousands of oyster spat cages to harvesting, growing, and re-planting bay grasses for shoreline erosion protection, MCE inmates are making a difference all across Maryland. These sustainability projects also fall under the state-wide Smart, Green and Growing initiative.
MCE employment recently reached an all-time high, with more than 2,000 inmates working in an average month, in operations from the Eastern Shore to Cumberland. With FY ’09 revenues of nearly $53 million, MCE is totally self-supporting, using no taxpayer money, and selling its products and services only to non-profit and government agencies. MCE ranks among the top ten prison industries in the nation. MCE CEO Steve Shiloh this summer received a prestigious national honor for his work in correctional industries.
The orchard restoration is just the latest in a series of projects DPSCS inmates have undertaken to help Antietam National Battlefield. Division of Correction Hagerstown maintenance operations recently donated 110 tons of 1930’s-quarried local stones which the battlefield has already used in period barn restoration. The DPSCS Public Safety Works project, which places inmates across the state in meaningful community-enhancing initiatives, has offered to help with Antietam’s 150th anniversary celebration. Inmate labor projects have also helped the battlefield with a number of other endeavors.