provide valuable city services
Facility sends out work crews
weekly to do various tasks
(June 2007) The Madison Correction Facility
is a minimum security facility for low-risk female offenders who are
nearing the end of their incarceration and are getting ready to return
to their home communities. Most of the offenders at the facility are
there because of crimes centered on drug or alcohol abuse.
by Konnie McCollum
offenders on city work crews
help to clean up debris from flooding
along Madison, Ind.s riverfront.
Each offender is required to hold a full time job, be
enrolled in school or a trade program full time or do a combination
of both school and work. There are numerous community service and work
programs available at the facility that teach valuable job skills at
the same time they encourage good citizenship.
Like other correctional facilities in the state, Madison Correction
Facility has nine offender crews that go out into the surrounding communities
daily. These crews work on projects as assigned by agencies or departments,
including two work crews for the City of Madison.
Madison Mayor Al Huntington said the city crews have been a tremendous
help and save the city almost $300,000 a year in labor costs. From
the start, the program has been good for our community, provided jobs
for area citizens and has been a great rehabilitation and transition
program for the offenders.
Indiana Department of Correction Commissioner J. David Donahue said
offender work crews not only provide a valuable service to local communities,
but they give offenders the opportunity to give back to the communities.
It is important to our residents that they pay their debt to society,
not only by doing their incarceration time. The work they do on the
work crews in addition to their service projects help them to learn
the value of hard work, teach important job skills and prepare them
to return to their home communities as law abiding citizens that will
contribute to society.
Huntington said there has never been an issue with any of the offenders
and the public, which he believes speaks well for the management
at the correctional facility.
Madisons city crews started in 1995 when the facility housed low-risk
male offenders. Huntington that said at first the men started out mowing,
but it soon became apparent that many of them were trained tradesmen,
and the city started using them for more jobs. We got a tremendous
amount of work done by these men, and they were happy to do it,
He had tremendous praise for men who worked on the crews. During
the 1997 flood, the male offenders worked tirelessly alongside the public
to fill sandbags to help staunch the damage to riverfront property.
In 2004 the correctional facility switched over to house adult female
offenders. We werent sure how that was going to work out,
but these women can certainly hold their own, said Huntington.
Because the program has been so successful, there are now two city crews
of six to eight offenders each. Every morning at 7, except in severe
weather conditions, the women head out to put in a full day of labor
for the city.
Rodger McKinley, until recently the acting superintendent at the Madison
Correctional Facility, said the work the Madison city crews do, which
often involves heavy manual labor, is an exciting opportunity for the
offenders. He said they do more than grass trimming and picking up garbage
on the sides of the city streets. They assist in grounds maintenance
of the city parks and golf courses, which often involves heavy lifting
to remove drift work. This builds valuable job skills and positive
self-esteem. They are very proud of their work.
by Konnie McCollum
classes and college courses are
among the educational opportunities
available at the correctional facility.
Doug Vest, a former corrections officer who was hired
by the city to supervise one of the crews, heads the crew that can be
seen working down along the river or cleaning City Hall and the Senior
Citizens Center. He said the women on his crew enjoy being outside and
love to see the results of their work.
During the Madison Ribberfest, Madison Regatta and the Madison Chautauqua
festivals, his crew sets up the fencing and other prep work and then
helps clean up the trash afterward.
During recent warm weather, his crew cleaned up and helped plant trees
on the citys golf course.
On a cold, rainy day in March, the women were cheerfully working along
the riverfront cleaning up heavy debris brought on by flooding. Wearing
mud-covered rain gear and dragging huge bags of trash up a hill to a
waiting flatbed trailer, they were excited to talk about the community
service work they do for the city.
Mary Statzer, 41, has a bachelors degree from Indiana State University
and worked for years in an office doing accounting work. A mother of
three and a grandmother of seven, she said she is happy to be on a city
I look at this as an educational aerobics workout,î she
said. She has learned to use the large mowers, chain saws, chippers
and other landscaping equipment. She said she looks back at the work
the crew finishes with a sense of pride. While it also helps her pass
the 3 1/2 years she has left on her sentence for drug dealing, she said,
It makes me feel good working for the community.
Another crew member, Amy Ravellette, 33, agreed that is feels great
to be outdoors and the work helps pass the time. Incarcerated for attempted
robbery, she said she has learned a lot about hard work. She also likes
the health benefits the work provides. I plan to use the skills
I have learned working on the city crew to get into a laborers
union when I go home, she said. She was amazed at how kind the
public has been to them. People come up and tell us how they appreciate
us, which makes us feel good, she said.
Cori Frost, 41, said the work makes her feel good both physically and
spiritually. Frost has just a few days left on her 19-month sentence
for forgery. She had been incarcerated previously for a drug addiction
problem, but she said this time she just finished a program called Clean
Lifestyle Is Freedom Forever that has definitely helped her get
back on track.
I wish I would have known about this program and the Thinking
for a Change Program before because I wouldnt be here right
now, she said.
The offenders assigned to the facility have less than four years to
serve before they are released, and they are provided education and
counseling programs, including literacy, GED, college courses through
Oakland University, substance abuse counseling and transition education.
by Konnie McCollum
women painted on the wall of
the courtyard during their free time.
Public Information Officer Jennifer Saroka said everything
the women do at the facility helps contribute to the community and pay
their debt to society. Many of the jobs at the facility are done by
the offenders, including sanitation and housekeeping, maintenance, kitchen
and laundry duties, warehouse stocking and inventory. She said women
offenders work alongside paid employees in many situations and learn
valuable skills such as electrical work and a variety of construction
trades. The offenders are currently helping to build a new cosmetology
The actual facility is well-maintained by the offenders, who can be
seen waxing, buffing and scrubbing floors. While some women do their
jobs, others are found in various classrooms throughout the facility
studying for their GED or taking college classes. In one room, a group
of women were busy hand sewing costumes for volunteers at Connor Prairie,
a historic site in Indianapolis.
In addition to the city crews, the 345 offenders at the facility are
involved in other community projects, including Habitat for Humanity
and a facility recreation club that has sewn beautiful quilts. The quilts
are on display in the recreation room, and more than 500 hats and scarves
are for area school children.
There is also a facility choir, Destinys Voices, which performs
at area functions and churches.
Saroka said there is always a need for volunteers and mentors at the
Madison Correctional Facility. Volunteers are trained in how to
deal with the offenders; no experience is necessary, she said.
In late April, the correctional facility received a new superintendent,
Jan Davis, who will take over management of the facility. She said she
was extremely pleased with the work the city crews do and how successful
the program is working.
These work crews really provide a great service to the community,
while allowing the offenders to contribute in a positive manner. It
promotes a strong worth ethic and job skills that are absolutely essential
to a successful release and re-entry into society.
Im thinking it should go at the end. I liked what then acting
superintendent McKinley had to say about the crews, so I really dont
want to cut that unless we have to.
For more information on being a volunteer
at the Madison Correctional Facility, call Jennifer Saroka at (812)
Back to June 2007 Articles.