The state of Illinois is utilizing inmate work crews from the Illinois Department of Corrections to provide extra manpower to flood-fighting efforts in river communities.

The individuals, vetted by a complex IDOC application process, are filling sandbags at various locations across the state, and helping communities fortify levees. The IDOC crews are supervised by the Illinois State Police or IDOC at all times. Despite the challenging circumstances and work conditions, these crews are in good spirits and a welcome addition to the workforce.

“I’m blown away, these guys don’t complain, and they don’t bicker. They jump right in and don’t quit,” said Wes Ballard, a foreman and Greene County resident who is working with the team by supervising loading and operating the construction equipment. “I can’t say enough good about them.”

IDOC facilities up and down river have produced one-million sandbags, which have been distributed by the Illinois Department of Transportation to places in need throughout the state. To date, IDOC work crews have worked more than six-thousand hours placing sandbags for the Illinois flood fight, which began in early-March.

“IDOC is proud to play a role in keeping our communities safe from ravaging floodwaters,” said IDOC Acting Director Rob Jeffreys. “The volunteer workers are developing self-esteem, responsibility, and service-mindedness by taking part in sandbag operations.”

Members of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Illinois National Guard, ISP, IDOC, IDOT, and countless local civilian volunteers and organizations such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army are working together to battle the swollen rivers and protect our river communities. The flooding, which has reached near record levels, continues to plague hundreds of miles of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.