"The Missouri National Guard plans to start training some of the state's prison inmates to help it during natural disasters and other emergencies.
Missouri Guard spokeswoman Maj. Tammy Spicer said Thursday that under the proposal, the prison inmates would become a more formalized part of the Guard's disaster response. She said it would give the Guard a larger and better trained pool of workers to respond to emergencies. The training would focus on skills such as filling and stacking sandbags and removing debris.
Prison inmates already have been used in the past to help local officials during floods and other emergencies. Over the past several years, prison inmates have worked with volunteers and others to shore up levees and fill sandbags along flooding rivers from near St. Louis to northwestern Missouri.
Earlier this year, Gov. Jay Nixon allowed 37 inmates from a prison in St. Joseph to help stack sandbags along I-29 near Craig to protect the highway from a flooded Missouri River. In 2008, nearly 150 inmates from prisons across the state were among those fortifying levees near the Mississippi River in northeastern Missouri. And in 2007, prison inmates and the National Guard worked to protect a water treatment plant, schools and an ethanol plant near Craig from flood water."
The Wichita Eagle
I suppose that to some this may seem like a crazy idea but I think it has merit, for three reasons. The first is that when the rivers are coming up and the levees are about to break any help is appreciated. Having a trained and willing group of workers organized along military lines could be a God send.
The second is that this very same training, along military lines, will help at least some of the prisoners when they enter back into the civilian world. A sense of pride in accomplishment goes a long way towards helping to foster further success.
Thirdly, I think that this is a step towards using prisoners as work crews. States are going underwater fast and will no longer be able to afford to hire and pension all the workers they have over the last 50 years or so. It's time to start using prisoners to do the work. We're paying them anyway, right? They should have to work just like the rest of us.