Branchville Correctional Facility Keeps Offenders Active During COVID-19

(BRANCHVILLE) – Branchville Correctional Facility and Warden Kathy Alvey want to congratulate staff member Jim Holmes, for his creative ideas to keep offenders busy during COVID-19.

As with many people in quarantine, Branchville Correctional Facility is looking for creative ways to safely keep offenders engaged in prosocial activities during COVID-19. In response, Branchville’s Jim Holmes has created two unique projects with Warden Kathy Alvey’s approval at Branchville. Holmes and the offender work crew have created a pollinators garden in a space previously used to keep scrap wood. The area was cleaned of debris and cleared this week with the help of Officer K. Sodrel, the Branchville gardens officer. 

Officer Sodrel helped staff and offenders plant several plants designed to draw in pollinators, such as bees, and butterflies. Some of the garden areas will be used to plant large vegetables such as watermelons, cantaloupes, and pumpkins for donation to charities.

Annually, Branchville donates over 10,000 pounds of produce to local food banks, senior retirement communities, and child care organizations. With the addition of this garden, Branchville is hoping to increase total pounds donated and become the top producer within the Indiana Department of Correction.

The garden will also grow long neck gourds to make birdhouses. The birdhouses are just another venue of donation for the facility to engage with our local communities, organizations, and nonprofits. 

Currently, the sawmill makes several items for donations like wood rocking chairs, dog and cat houses, and cutting boards.  These items are in addition to the Cabins made for the Department of Natural Resources state recreational parks.  

Another project just completed was for the Tell City Volunteer Fire Department (TCFD). The TCFD Totem Pole is just another example of the ROP’s creativity and reduction of waste by the facility. Within the totem, representations of the American Flag, the Bald Eagle, the TCFD badge, and fire hydrant can clearly be seen.  The Totem is to be donated to the TCFD and placed at the Fire Station on 12th Street, in Tell City.

During these uncertain times, Holmes said, “The projects provide work for offenders, fresh produce for those in need, and a sense of community, fellowship and the opportunity to give back.”

All offenders and staff are adhering to CDC guidelines while engaging in these prosocial activities on grounds at Branchville Correctional Facility.