SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that since damaging storms moved across Illinois three weeks ago, the Illinois Department of Corrections staff and inmate work crews logged nearly 11,000 hours helping communities clean up and recover from the storms. After two tornadoes swept through Springfield and high winds and strong storms wreaked havoc on the region, the Governor declared seven Illinois counties state disaster areas and after the Governor’s request, President Bush declared Sangamon County a federal disaster area.
State and inmate work crews continue to help local communities clean up after another round of powerful storms moved through Illinois on Sunday, April 2nd. The National Weather Service confirms at least 28 tornadoes touched down in Illinois Sunday evening.
“So many Illinois communities have suffered already this spring. And, we know the road to recovery will be a long one,” said Governor Blagojevich. “That’s why we are committed to doing everything we can to helping local communities – from Illinois Department of Transportation trucks clearing roadways or Illinois Department of Corrections crews picking up debris, or unemployment assistance to people who lost their jobs as a result of the storms.”
Staff and inmate work crews have provided nearly 11,000 hours of disaster relief to Springfield, Loami, Jerome, Woodside and Clearlake townships in Sangamon County; Steeleville and Bremen in Randolph County; Murrayville in Morgan County; Manchester in Scott County; Mt. Pulaski in Logan County and Taylorville in Christian County.
Facilities providing staff and inmates to help in the disaster relief project included DuQuoin Impact Incarceration Program; Greene County, Pittsfield and Vandalia Work Camps; Logan, Taylorville, Jacksonville, Menard, Western Illinois and Danville Correctional Centers.
IDOC staff and inmate work crews have been working side by side with other government agencies and civilians in providing disaster relief. Mike McKinney, assistant warden of operations at Jacksonville Correctional Center, who also serves as IDOC liaison to IEMA, said IDOC staff and inmate work crews have worked long hard hours every day cutting fallen trees and picking up and loading debris onto Illinois Department of Transportation trucks for disposal.
IEMA Director William Burke and Ralph Caldwell, Springfield assistant chief of police, also commended IDOC staff and inmate crews for their enormous help in the cleanup effort. IDOC Director Roger E. Walker said the use of IDOC staff and inmate work crews are a valuable asset to the taxpayer as well as those affected by devastating disasters.
“Supporting communities in their time of need is an important mission of our agency,” said Walker. “When we are called upon to provide service, the state can be assured that we will be there. The goal of supporting communities through public service projects also provides inmates a structured, specialized agenda that develops responsibility, self-discipline, self-respect and the importance of a good work ethic. The driving force rests on the belief that the willingness to get involved in community service enhances the ability of the offender to reintegrate into society and live as a responsible, law-abiding and productive citizen.”