Springfield State Fair 2022: Illinois Department of Corrections inmates help beautify fairgrounds

Springfield fair brings in 12 inmates to assist landscaping team each year

ByAndre Thomas, WICS
Thursday, August 18, 2022
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Every year, the Illinois DOC brings inmates from central Illinois to assist with sprucing up the state fair.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Thousands of flowers are in bloom at the Illinois State Fair, and it may surprise you to learn who is behind all of the beautiful landscaping: inmates from the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Every year, the Illinois DOC brings inmates from central Illinois to assist with sprucing up the state fair, WICS reported.

"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.

Every year, 12 inmates are brought to the fair to assist the landscaping team.

They are split up into three groups.

Each group has a supervising officer.

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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, 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," Morgan said.

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

They are given food and water throughout their time outside.

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," said Shelith Hansbro, Department of Corrections assistant.

Every year, different people are chosen to help out, and the program could be expanding within a couple of years.