Sheriff Offers Inmate Labor Crews to Help Repair Sandwich Boardwalk

SANDWICH – The Sandwich Boardwalk was heavily damaged during the last major nor’easter and the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office is offering to help with repairs.

Sheriff Jim Cummings and his staff have reached out to town officials to offer the assistance of the inmate labor program after seeing the amount of damage done by the January 4 storm to the structure.

All of the major walkover stairs from the Town Neck Beach parking lot to the beach were destroyed as well. An initial assessment of damage done by Sandwich officials indicated a 12 to 15 foot loss of solid dune at the beach.

The sheriff’s office has two community work crews made up of appropriately classified inmates who have some contractor and work skills. The crews offer services to municipalities, government agencies and non-profit organizations across the region.

“We help them get jobs done that otherwise wouldn’t get done,” said Special Sheriff Jeff Perry. “When we saw the devastation to the Sandwich Boardwalk we reached out to the town of Sandwich and offered our inmate labor program to them if it could be an advantage to them.”

Major Dave Neal, who runs the inmate labor program for the sheriff’s office, has attended several meetings with town officials and engineers, who are designing a plan to repair the boardwalk.

“They are designing a plan to reconstruct and repair the boardwalk and we are in the process right now of determining what appropriate work we can do,” Perry said.

Earlier this week, inmates in the labor program worked to demolish and dismantle the walkover stairs at Town Neck Beach which were destroyed in the storm.

“Now we are waiting to hear back from the town and their engineers about what the plan is and we are ready, willing and able to help in any phase of that reconstruction that they deem appropriate,” Perry said.

Perry said the inmate labor program is not just beneficial to the towns and organizations which receive the free labor, but it is also important for the inmates.

The inmates get to learn real-life job skills and vocational training and are under the supervision of trained corrections officers, some of which have construction experience.

“Not only are they doing the work and helping out the towns and charities, but they are preparing themselves for when they are released back in the community,” Perry said. “It’s a win for the inmate training. It’s a win for the sheriff’s office and it’s certainly a win for the work that gets done in these communities that wouldn’t get done but for the free labor and skills of the inmates and sheriff’s office personnel.”

The program is also helpful for contractors and employers in the region who are looking for a trained workforce.

“We are very fortunate on Cape Cod to have employers who are not only willing but who are asking us to provide them qualified labor,” Perry said.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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