LUDLOW, Mass. (WWLP) – Many state agencies have played a significant role in fighting COVID-19. The Hampden County Jail inmates have been working to help benefit the future of others and themselves by assisting in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic

“We are self sufficient, we have to be, we’re a city behind the fences.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic inmates of the Hampden County Jail have been working to help Massachusetts residents on the outside fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The York Industries program teaches incarcerated individuals manufacturing skills that can translate to good-paying jobs post-release. Skills that include making a significant amount of PPE for the department’s staff and first responders.

“The work the inmates are doing inside the jail has resulted in to more than 67,000 masks and hundreds of face shields and gowns for frontline workers.”

“The offenders stepping up and wanting to be part of a solution to me is just moving. They are trying to learn a skill to better themselves and go back to the community as law abiding citizens and if we can do that we know we’re making a movement in the right direction.”

Congressman Richard Neal was at the jail this morning to see first hand the work these inmates are doing.

“They’re ready for the next step in life, but there is another story here about how they use their time. Personal protection equipment, much of it going to Baystate Medical Center. The gowns, what they did for MEMA, there is many dimensions to an American life and a second chance is part of it.”

The work at the prison is optional for the inmates.

Sheriff Cocchi also said each inmate receives a small stipend for their work that gets stored in an account for them to use once they’re released.