Apples Harvested by Maryland Correctional Enterprises Sold to Maryland Food Bank at Fraction of Market Rate

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TOWSON, MD (Sept. 15, 2011) – Maryland Division of Correction (DOC) inmates this month have harvested two varieties of apples – Red Delicious and Gala – from about 1,200 trees planted on state land south of Hagerstown.

Some of the fruit will be eaten by inmates at the three facilities near Hagerstown, and sold to the Maryland Food Bank at a fraction of the usual cost: 20 cents per pound as opposed to a market value of $1.99 per pound. The Maryland Food Bank provides food to about 600,000 Marylanders per week, about 500,000 of whom live below the federal poverty line.

Media is invited to the orchard Monday, Sept. 19 at 10 a.m. A representative from the Maryland Food Bank will be on hand to receive some produce, and inmates will be completing the harvest and available for interviews. Please RSVP to Mark Vernarelli or Erin Julius, listed on attached, and directions will be provided.

The six-acre apple orchard falls under the horticulture program of Maryland Correctional Enterprises (MCE), the prison industry arm of the DOC, which provides employment and vocational training for inmates. Studies have shown that offenders with at least one year of MCE employment are less than half as likely to recidivate as general population inmates. MCE sells its products and services only to non-profits and government enterprises, not to private citizens.

Division of Correction inmates have already this year gleaned 155,041 pounds of food that was donated to the Maryland Food Bank under a Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services initiative called Public Safety Works (PSW). Farmers on Maryland’s Eastern Shore donated their fields and the crop to the Food Bank, inmate crews provided the labor. Pre-release inmates across the state clean Veterans cemeteries, plant trees, tend retired racehorses, and provide maintenance to small towns under PSW. The inmates gain valuable employment experience while helping improve communities and care for Maryland’s natural resources.