Tuesday, January 02, 2001

100-year mural brightens inmates' work camp

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BURLINGTON — Inmates at a minimum-security work camp have painted the last 100 years onto a 24-foot-long stretch of wall as part of their rehabilitation.

        Boone County Jailer John Schickel last week unveiled a mural that depicts a timeline of key historical moments and figures, drawn and painted by inmates and employees of the Boone County Community Service Workcamp on Bullittsville Road. This week, the art work is expected to be unveiled to inmates in a special ceremony.

        The mural was conceived in January by Mr. Schickel, who said he wanted something that would be educational for inmates and visitors and also say something about the camp's curriculum built around discipline, teamwork and self-improvement.

        James Murphy, a 19-year-old inmate, drew the mural in pencil and helped paint it over nearly 11 months. Although he had done drawings in the past, Mr. Murphy said, the mural was his first attempt at painting.

        Retired Delta Air Lines employee Jim Toner, a history buff and friend of Mr. Schickel, compiled key historical moments from refer ence books and then established the segments of the timeline for Mr. Murphy to paint.

        A number of state and local dignitaries and politicians attended a ceremony Friday that also included songs by a group of inmates.

        “This is really impressive,” said Florence City Councilwoman Linda Schaffer. “It's educational, and it was done with such a posi tive note.”

        The camp is operated on a military model with all inmates required to sign an honor code, stand inspection, and participate in drills and physical training.

        All inmates are required to work at community service or paying jobs at least eight hours a day. Jobs include the jail vegetable garden, janitorial, kitchen work, maintainance and trash pick up.

        Inmates who do not have a high school diploma are required to participate in the jail's general equivalency diploma program.

        Mr. Schickel, who has received visits from jailers from all over the country, said the creative and educational nature of the timeline follows the jail's basic demands on inmates — courtesy, dependability, work habits and responsibility.

        “We hope that the workcamp experience will help the inmates become productive members of society who can go out and get better jobs,” he said.


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