LEWISTON — Prisoners from seven county jails saved the local school department nearly $25,000 by cleaning, painting and performing carpentry projects at seven of the city’s school buildings last week.

Twenty-six first offenders and 23 second-time offenders participated in an Alternative Sentencing Program administered by Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Victoria Langelier, program sergeant at Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn, according to a prepared statement released Monday by the department.

Prisoners from Androscoggin, Cumberland, Franklin, Hancock, York, Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties spent seven days at the local high school, middle school and five elementary schools.

Each of the first offenders worked a total of 11.5 hours; the second offenders, 51.5 hours.

At Lewiston High School, the inmates painted five hallways, three classrooms, cleaned all hallways, lockers, chairs, desks, weight room and cafeteria, changed light bulbs in the entire school and organized and built shelving in the basement.

At Lewiston Middle School, they washed down the walls, chairs, tables, bathrooms, cafeteria, classrooms, windows, stairwells, gym and weight room in the entire school. They also painted three locker rooms, two dressing rooms and two bathrooms.

At Farwell School, they cleaned the cafeteria and gym. At McMahon, Geiger and Montello schools, they washed down the walls, chairs, tables, bathrooms, cafeteria, classrooms, windows, stairwells and gym. At Martel School, they not only cleaned, but painted a classroom.

Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy William Gagnon said the program has existed for two decades, averaging about five projects a year.

Only inmates convicted of non-violent crimes and non-sex crimes are eligible, he said.

Most of the projects involve schools in Lewiston and Auburn or government buildings. The next project is scheduled for mid-April with the Auburn School Department during spring vacation.

“You think of how many man hours we can give them for free,” Gagne said. “A lot of the stuff we’re doing are the menial tasks their people just don’t have the time to do because they’re doing the bigger, more crucial projects. So, this is a way for people to go in and give back to society instead of filling up our jails.”

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