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Prison inmates refurbish bikes for children

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Colin Braley/Reuters/File

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Inmates at the state prison in Springfield, S.D., have been refurbishing hundreds of bicycles, some of which are provided by the police department in Mitchell, S.D., and donating them to children across the state for nearly two decades.

At Mike Durfee State Prison about 1,300 bikes are restored and given away every year through its 18-year-old Pedal Power from the Pen program. For at least a decade, the Mitchell Police Division has been taking about 100 impound bikes each year to the prison, where they're fixed up and then given to law enforcement agencies and nonprofits to be donated back to communities.

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Most of the bicycles stay in South Dakota, but some of them are sent to Iowa or Nebraska, prison warden Bob Dooley told The Daily Republic (http://bit.ly/1MstLVf).

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"The whole idea is to get those bikes into the hands of kids in South Dakota," Mr. Dooley said.

A large number of refurbished bicycles are given away at the annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner and Children's Charity Fundraiser in an effort to raise thousands of dollars for various children's charities.

About 50 bikes were taken to the dinner in Pedal Power's first year, but that number has gradually increased over the years, and the program is expected to supply closer to 500 bikes at this year's even in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Law enforcement agencies from across South Dakota come to the dinner and are able to take as many bikes as they want, Dooley said. Some agencies bring trailers to haul dozens of bikes back to their communities, but the prison doesn't keep track of which agencies take bikes and how many they walk away with, he said.

"Most of the time, we don't even know who they go to, and that's OK," Dooley said. "It's designed to get bikes to kids."

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Additionally, children who visit their parents at the prison during the holiday season are given bikes to take home with them.

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Pedal Power is among the most popular programs offered at the prison because it allows inmates to feel like they're "giving back to the community," Dooley said.

"The bike program is one way they can really make a difference," he said.

• Information from The Daily Republic, http://www.mitchellrepublic.com.


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