By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Almost two dozen inmates at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution are being praised for chipping in to help deal with flooding in Lingle earlier this month.
Capt. Steve Chulski said close to 75 inmates at the facility in Torrington volunteered to hep fill sandbags when parts of Lingle were inundated by floodwaters from a breach in the Pathfinder Canal on July 1.
Chulski told Cowboy State Daily that on the day of the flood, prison officials were approached about whether inmates could be sent to Lingle to help fill sandbags.
“We didn’t send inmates to Lingle, but we did ask our population for volunteers to help fill sandbags here at the facility,” Chulski said on Monday. “We had probably close to 75 inmates or more volunteer to fill bags and we used about 20 of them to pack sandbags. They worked for about three hours and filled an estimated 600 bags of sand.”
It was initially reported that more than 600 inmates helped fill bags of sand, but Chulski clarified that was the number of bags filled.
Chulski said the inmates put a sign-up sheet in their housing unit asking for the names of people interested in helping. The almost 75 inmates who volunteered did so even though there was no guarantee of extra money or privileges, he said.
He pointed out that this is not the first time the inmates have helped in a flooding crisis.
“A few years ago, when Saratoga was hit with the floods, inmates volunteered to fill sandbags,” Chulski said. “I think it’s good when they want to help give something back to the community. I think most of them volunteer to help for that type of reason.”
In total, 93 emergency personnel, including community members and independent contractors, assisted with the flooding situation in Lingle, along with 20 county and state emergency agencies, according to Lingle Fire Department officials.
Gov. Mark Gordon even sent in the Wyoming National Guard to help with disaster relief and cleanup efforts.
Volunteer work among Wyoming’s prison inmates, both male and female, is relatively common.
According to the Wyoming Department of Corrections, inmates at the Wyoming Women’s Center in Lusk frequently take on certain jobs such as highway clean-up, helping at the local recycling center and caring for the community cemetery. Inmates at the Honor Farm in Riverton and Honor Conservation Camp in Newcastle assist with general maintenance in their respective towns and counties, help with firefighting and even make gift baskets to give out during the holidays.