The Main Stream

Oct 4, 2012 3:54 PM by Samantha Ptashkin

Prison Break: inmates leave prison to clean up Oro Valley

ORO VALLEY, Ariz.- Take a drive through Oro Valley and chances are you've spotted the bright orange jumpsuits on the side of the road.

Oro Valley recently partnered with the Marana Community Correctional Treatment Facility, giving low-risk inmates a chance to get out of prison for the day and help clean up the community. "It's just a win-win to be able to bring these inmates out into the community," Warden Shelly Sonberg says.

Five days a week, eight hours a day, the inmates pick up trash, cut down trees and perform other tasks to beautify Oro Valley. "They see their work is productive, they feel good at the end of the day," Sonberg says. "They come back and understand that they've put in a full work day."

Oro Valley pays the inmates 50 cents per hour. Without them the projects wouldn't get done because of town budget cuts. "Really what we've essentially done is double our workforce in a very economical way," Town Manager Greg Caton says.

He estimates Oro Valley will save between $150,000 to $200,000 per year.

Right now there are three inmates involved in the program, but they hope to add a few more. They're chosen because of their exemplary behavior, as well as the short amount of time left on their sentences.

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