PRISON INMATES' LABOR TO BENEFIT VICTIMS OF CRIME.
Work done by prison inmates will benefit crime victims.
More than $40,000 paid by Lancaster, the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds and Antelope Valley Transit Authority for the services of minimum-security work crews was donated Tuesday to three local organizations that serve crime victims.
``I know it's kind of ironic that I represent a prison,'' California State Prison-Los Angeles County Warden Ernie Roe said in making the donation. ``Inmates do attempt to pay back the community.''
Roe presented the Valley Oasis Domestic Violence Shelter, the Sexual Assault Response Service and the Children's Center of Antelope Valley each a check for $14,000.
The Children's Center received a check for an additional $259 raised by inmates through a pizza sale. Guards bought pizzas for the inmates to sell to other inmates.
``The people behind the prison are the heart,'' said Dr. Karunyan Arul, a Children's Center board member. ``These dollars are going straight to treating children.''
The money handed out Tuesday had been set aside over the past five years. It represented 10 percent of the amount charged for the use of the inmate crews.
The Lancaster prison has three 15-person crews composed of low-risk inmates, each supervised by one correctional officer. One of the crews takes care of city projects, one crew handles county projects, and the other crew works at the fairgrounds.
For 18 months, the Antelope Valley Transit Authority used a crew of inmates to clean the buses. Due to budget cuts, the AVTA had to end the program in 1997.
The inmates work five days a week, seven hours per day, and are allowed to stay on the work program as long as they keep working. For each productive day worked, the inmate will get a day off his sentence, according to Roe.
Tuesday's donation corresponded with National Crime Victims' Rights Week (April 19-25), and the opening five years ago of the Lancaster prison.