Program puts paint brushes in hands of Plymouth County inmates
Tim McKenna was a merchant marine living in Florida when he decided to return to his hometown of Hanover and start a new life of sobriety – but not before a final drinking spree.
“It was one last hurrah,” he said of his trip up the East Coast.
He was arrested for drunken driving in Duxbury.
“I can’t blame anyone but myself,” he said.
McKenna is serving the last seven weeks of a 2½-year sentence at the Plymouth County House of Correction. He isn’t just doing time, he’s trying to repay his debt by wielding a paint brush.
McKenna is part of a five-man work crew in the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department’s Project Labor, a program that provides free labor to local nonprofit and government agencies.
“If I am going to work, I want it to be constructive and saving the taxpayers money,” McKenna said.
He and fellow participants in the program have spent the last eight months scraping, painting and refurbishing police and fire stations, senior centers and town administration buildings.
In 2008, the program saved local towns an estimated $538,000.
Currently, a crew is painting the interior of the 9,000-square-foot fire station on Main Street in Carver.
“This is a huge win for a community,” Carver Fire Chief Craig Weston said. “We wouldn’t be able to fund a program of this nature on our own. This project will save the town $30,000.”
Sheriff Joseph McDonald Jr. said requests for inmate labor have increased rapidly.
“This is not just a boon to the community but a benefit as a rehabilitative program,” McDonald said while visiting the Carver work site. “These are tangible installments of repayment to their debt to society.”
Inmates allowed to join one of the work crews are usually in the last year of their sentences, McDonald said. Inmate crews are supervised by a corrections officer.
“We are very selective because the safety and security of citizens is extremely important to us,” McDonald said. “We have a department that classifies all inmates based on personal, institutional and criminal history.”
“I have seen a lot of people in (the house of correction) without skills or work ethic,” McKenna said. “Something like this program can give them the experience with the benefit of learning a skill.”
For more information, go to www.pcsdma.org.