North Carolina has a long history of inmates working on public construction projects. In 1870, inmates began construction of the State Penitentiary in Raleigh. The castle-like structure, which later became known as Central Prison, was completed in December 1884.
Working under the direction of the penitentiary warden, Col. William J. Hicks, inmates completed the state's third governor's residence in 1891. The Executive Mansion in downtown Raleigh is still home to North Carolina's governor and remains one of the state's finest examples of the Queen Anne style of Victorian architecture.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s inmate labor helped build North Carolina railroads and highways, leading to the state's nickname as the "Good Roads State."
Today's modern Inmate Construction Program began in 1993 and follows this proud tradition of putting inmates to work, teaching valuable skills and saving the state millions of dollars.
Inmates involved in the apprenticeship program spend 480 hours in classroom learning and complete more than 6,000 hours of on-the-job training before they receive their journeyman's certification. Some inmates have earned journeyman's certification in two or more trades.
Since 1993, the Inmate Construction Program has completed many projects including the following:
Dan River Prison Work Farm - Main dormitory
In 1994, Central Engineering staff began working with prison managers to select inmates to participate in the Inmate Construction program. The first project was the Dan River Prison Work Farm, a minimum security prison in Yanceyville. Minimum security inmates erected fencing and guard towers around the site and medium security inmates were put to work on the construction crews.
Tyrrell Prison Work Farm - Main dormitory
As work neared completion at the Dan River Prison Work Farm at Yanceyville, another Inmate Construction project began in Tyrrell County. The new prison being built near Columbia was a prison work farm similar in construction to Dan River's unit. Some inmate workers moved from Dan River to Tyrrell to continue using their construction skills. Construction started in 1996.
Apex Staff Training Center and Warehouse
The Inmate Construction Program completed demolition and renovation of an existing building in Apex. The building now houses offices for both the Office of Staff and Development Training (OSDT) and the Central Pharmacy. The existing building was an old manufacturing facility, which was completely gutted except for the four outside walls, floor and part of the roof. The new facility was completed in July 2000 and is more than 55,000 square feet. Prior to completing this building, a 52,900 square foot commodity storage warehouse for Correction Enterprise was renovated and finished in March at the same location. The total renovation cost for both buildings was approximately 6.7 million dollars. More than 150 inmates were used in the renovation and construction process under the direction of Central Engineering construction supervisors.
208-bed dorm at N.C. Correctional Institution for Women
The Inmate Construction Program completed a 208-bed dormitory at the N.C. Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh in August 2001. Groundwork on the 4.4 million dollar dormitory addition was started in February of 2000. Approximately 85 inmates under direction of Central Engineering construction supervisors were used in the construction of the 33,000 square-foot dormitory.
Columbus Tailoring Plant
With the help of 52 prisoners, the Correction Enterprise sewing plant was built behind Columbus Correctional Institution in 1999. After the footings and columns were in place, a contractor assembled the steel trusses at the construction site. Two large cranes hoisted the steel girders into place. The girders were 136 feet across from one edge of the building to the other. The inmate construction crew prepared the plumbing and electrical work and poured the flooring.
Additions to Warren Correctional Institution
Warren Janitorial Products Plant
504 and 252 bed additions to 1,000 cell prison facilities