Friday, July 16, 2010

Maryland community objects to use of inmates at horse rescue farm

A program that would have provided inmate labor to a Maryland horse-rescue farm was suspended after only a week, when neighbors and parents of youth volunteers at the farm complained they weren't informed of the program. "The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services rolled out the program at the Days End Farm Horse Rescue" in Howard County last week, Larry Carson of The Baltimore Sun reports. "But just days later, officials were apologizing for how the initiative was handled." The farm is home to 70 abused and neglected horses from all over the state.

Days End executive director Kathy Howe told Carson about 1,200 people volunteer at the farm throughout the year, including some teenagers who work for a horse rescue non-profit organization. Tammy Mirabile, who lives less than a mile from the farm and learned of the program through a local newspaper account, said if they restart the program the farm would "lose volunteers, rather than gain them." Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services officials noted the four inmates who began volunteering at the farm were non-violent offenders, but quickly acknowledged following the complaints that they erred in not informing the community.

"There was never any communication between the volunteers and the inmates," Howe told Carson. "They were a group very well supervised and were helping to maintain the land." Howe said the farm hadn't informed the community about the program because it didn't occur to her than anyone would be upset. Citing Rick Binetti, communications director for the corrections agency, Carson writes, "The hope is that in time, after community concerns are addressed, the program can be restarted." (Read more)

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