IDOC inmates help beautify Illinois State Fair

ByAndre Thomas, WICS
Thursday, August 18, 2022
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Every year the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) brings inmates from central Illinois to assist with beautifying the state fair.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Thousands of flowers are in bloom at the Illinois State Fair.

It may surprise you to learn who is behind all of the beautiful landscaping: Inmates from the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Every year, the IDOC brings inmates from Central Illinois to assist with sprucing up the state fair.

"They do all of the landscape, all of the flowers, everything preparation for this landscaping all year long including planting these flowers," said Jerry Morgan, Illinois State Fairgrounds landscaping supervisor.

Each year, 12 inmates are brought to the fair to assist the landscaping team. They are split up into three groups and each group has a supervising officer.

The inmates plant flowers, lay down soil, and water plants all over the fairgrounds.

"They take a tremendous amount of pride in the work they do," Morgan said. "Just to see it go from seed to the flowers and what you see now at the fairgrounds. They do, the people are super thankful for it and a lot of pride goes into working and doing this job."

Inmates can only participate if they are at a minimal security level and undergo a screening process, WICS reported.

They are given food and water throughout their time outside as well.

One of the inmates said just being outside in public makes him feel normal again.

"It's done by our individuals in custody. It gives them a really great sense of giving back. It is a great opportunity to be out here and making sure it is beautiful for the citizens of the state of Illinois," Department Of Corrections Assistant Shelith Hansbro.

Different people are chosen to help out each year and the program could be expanding within a couple of years.