Last updated: August 24. 2013 3:50AM - 328 Views

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LIMA — Students at Elida High School received a helping hand in the construction of prom decorations from an unusual source.

The hands that helped were actually from behind bars.

Inmates at the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution helped by building 25-foot long city streetscapes of buildings set to an old Hollywood theme.

“With all the help they gave us we were able to put on a really nice prom,” said Erin Morton, a teacher at Elida Elementary School and a junior class adviser.

Morton contacted acting Warden Kevin Jones, who volunteered the helping hands of the inmates as part of the prison’s community service efforts, Morton said.

“They built everything inside the prison,” she said.

Inmates painted the buildings and other decorations for the prom that was held May 4 at the University of Northwestern Ohio Event Center.

“We drew out silhouettes and they cut it out and painted it,” Morton said.

Twelve inmates participated in the program through the prison’s vocational education program, said Cori Smith, the assistant to the warden.

“This was the first time we were given the opportunity to do this. The inmates were very excited about this. It took them about two to three weeks,” Smith said.

While it was the first time designing decorations for a prom, inmates at the prison give more than 250,000 hours annually of community service. The Community Service Imitative in the state prison system began in 1991, Smith said.

Morton said inmates need to receive credit when they do something positive to help the community.

“A lot of people don’t realize they do stuff like this,” she said.

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