More than 350 offenders in Missouri prisons — as well as Department of Corrections staff members — aided in flood preparation efforts earlier this year, earning nearly $12,000 in wages, according to the department.
In all, offenders contributed to 1,548 work days of flood relief, assisting several communities, including St. Joseph, Clarksville, Norborne, Brunswick, Kimmswick, Henrietta, New Franklin, and Hardin.
Offenders earned $7.50 per day, totalling $11,610, Karen Pojmann, communications director for the Corrections Department, told The Missouri Times. Staff members who oversaw the efforts worked outside of their usual shifts and earned overtime pay, Pojmann said.
The Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic & Correctional Center in Vandalia sent 81 women to Clarksville — about a 45 minute drive away — to assist with sandbagging efforts from mid-March to June. It was the largest contribution of workers, a department spokeswoman said.
Other offenders who are part of a work release program with the Department of Transportation are continuing to aid in the cleanup efforts from the devastating storms that have ravaged Missouri this year, according to the department.
In addition to the manual labor, inmates also raised money for relief efforts. The Western Reception, Diagnostic & Correctional Center restorative justice organization raised $2,000 for Holt County; those at the Maryville Treatment Center were able to give $1,000 to relief in Nodaway County; and Southeast Correctional Center’s veteran organization donated $1,000, as well.
Additionally, inmates across the state raised nearly $700 for the Red Cross.
“Offenders can make donations through their accounts,” Pojmann explained. “Offenders earn modest wages for jobs they perform in prison, and family members also often contribute to these accounts.”
The funds are used for canteen purchases — such as snacks or toiletries — or fundraisers and charitable causes held by the department or “offender clubs.”
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the newspaper in 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City. Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S. and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa. She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. Contact Kaitlyn at email@example.com.