Created: 12/11/2013 6:25 PM
By: Kim Tobin, KOB Eyewitness News 4
It's a small step that has a big impact on the lives of many people. Inmates at the state prisons are doing several projects to help people in the community, and in turn, help themselves.
State officials say 96 percent of inmates will walk the streets again. They hope giving back to the community will help them stay out of trouble and out of prison. Their latest project is donating laptops to students in need at APS.
"They experience something that's different than the selfish choices that got them to prison in the first place," said Department of Corrections spokesperson Gregg Marcantel.
The inmates are encouraged to join clubs and help raise money with outside sponsors. A few inmates saw our stories on KOB Eyewitness News 4 about criminals targeting APS schools for laptops, and they wanted to help.
"If we can encourage enough souls to understand the role of selfless service, then I think we're going to have safer neighborhoods and I think we're going to have less strain on the tax dollar," said Marcantel.
The inmates in Santa Fe raised enough money to buy 12 laptops for kids in six APS schools. In addition to that, there's a wheel chair rehab program. Gang members fix wheel chairs and they're given out to people in need.
It's a mission Gov. Susana Martinez is standing behind and believes will ultimately help the inmates stay out of prison.
"We want them to think of other people and when they think of other people, it will help them to pause before they commit a crime against someone else," Martinez said.
The projects come full circle. The program asks the families receiving the help to write a letter explaining how the inmate service helped them. It lets the inmates see the positive reaction.