Boonville Correctional Center inmates volunteer locally

BOONVILLE, Mo. - Some men who are currently serving prison time are now getting a chance to serve the community.

Thursday afternoon inmates from the Boonville Correctional Center helped fix up a local homeless shelter.

For the past 19 years, a special community service project has allowed inmates to give back.Today the inmates fixed up a homeless shelter. Earlier this week the inmates helped restore a park off the Katy Trail.

For the inmates it's a week of service; for program organizers -- they hope it keeps inmates from going back to prison.

"Giving back always makes you feel good about yourself," said inmate Mark Christisen.

The last four years, Mark Christisen has been an inmate at the Boonville Correctional Center.

He is scheduled to be released February of next year.

Before then, Christisen and seven other inmates are working to help make Boonville a little better, which gives them a chance to feel a part of the community again.

"I think personally what I've gained from it is, it never hurts to have friends, especially friends that are able to get things done in a community like this.

Whenever you take a group of guys like this and doing something for the community, especially guys that are incarcerated, it doesn't make us look bad. You know, not everyone incarcerated is a bad guy," said Christisen

An image the inmates are trying to prove wrong.

"They are bringing people to their side. It's amazing the men do a job of reconciling themselves to the people," said Tom Maxwell, a service project coordinator.

Maxwell said after being released, seven out of 10 inmates find themselves back in prison.

But he hopes making them feel part of the community now will give them more motivation to stay on the right path.

"One of the biggest benefits is the lower recidivism we've checked recently, about seven years out of our 28 guys and only two have gone back, which is close to 5 percent compared to 70 nationally -- that's killing our country," Maxwell said.

"You did something wrong, you got caught, you have to pay for it, you get a chance to come out and do something like this," said Christisen.

The nearly $3,000 price tag for the program and project materials is paid by the town of Boonville and local churches. [Do they pay that, or donate?]

Christisen said all the work done this week is being dedicate to the victims of 9/11.

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