Last week Suffolk County inmates donning orange jumpsuits worked to clean and restore the Amagansett Farmer’s Market as armed correction officers looked on.
These work crews are part of the county’s Vocational Training Program, developed about four years ago by Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco, which provides communities with labor through trained, prescreened, low security inmates.
In addition to the farmer’s market, the program has also lent a hand to the Heritage Center in Mount Sinai, The Brendan House—a long-term residence for veterans and civilians with traumatic brain injuries—in Riverhead, Superstorm Sandy repairs and cleanups Island-wide and the restoration and reconstruction of The Amagansett Lifesaving Station.
David Lys, who spearheaded the restoration of the structure, said the program is a “wonderful symbiotic relationship” between the towns, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and the inmates.
“They’re coming out to the beautiful East End and not letting skills get stale,” said Mr. Lys of the inmates, many of whom are trained craftsmen.
Without the help of the inmates, Mr. Lys said the restoration would have taken another two years and hundreds of thousands of dollars. The men, who Mr. Lys described as “fantastic gentlemen,” helped with demolition, paint stripping, garnishing and dry wall installation.
“They all become a little bit better at different skills by the end,” Mr. Lys said. “I’m extremely happy with what they’ve helped with.”
Sheriff DeMarco has said that the program is a tool for improving post-release employability as well as ensuring the inmates steer free of criminal endeavors.
“It is an opportunity for the county’s inmates to give something back to the community,” Sheriff DeMarco said on social media.