PLAINFIELD, Ind. - The Indiana National Guard is helping the Indiana Department of Correction run its warehouse operations supplying inmates with commissary items during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Indiana National Guard troops from the 519th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Terre Haute, and the 38th Special Troops Battalion, Kokomo, worked at the Plainfield Correctional Facility April 14 to fulfill 1,170 commissary orders on day one of the mission.
“Our main focus is the safety and security of the facility, our offenders and the outside population,” said Lloyd Arnold, chief operating officer of the Indiana Correctional Industries. “What a relief it was when the Guard said they could help.”
Due to the global pandemic, the facility decided to suspend staffing in the warehouse by inmates and get help from the Guard. The facility’s warehouse, a component of the Indiana Correctional Industries, supplies commissary items for more than 27,000 Indiana offenders at 21 facilities throughout the state. Items such as personal hygiene products, food and magazines can be purchased by offenders.
“This is one of our most important industries because it supports the offender population,” said Arnold, an Indiana National Guard veteran. “Our mission is to give these men job opportunities while incarcerated and give them soft skills they can use when released.”
Concern about the interruption of the IDOC’s commissary component was what led James Basinger, deputy commissioner of operations, Arnold and others to formally request the assistance of the National Guard. Basinger and Arnold, both military veterans, knew that disruption of the commissary operation would cause problems across the entire state.
To support the growing needs of all state agencies, including IDOC, the Indiana National Guard was recently activated by Gov. Eric J. Holcomb to serve the community where needed.
“In times like this, it’s best when we all come together to work towards the common goal to overcome this,” said Capt. Adam Foss, commander of the 138th Composite Supply Company, Brazil, and officer in charge at the facility. “Every mission for us is different and nothing is exactly the same, but we are very adept at taking on these odd situations.”
Dealing with a considerable backlog of commissary orders, Foss knew there was a challenge to get the facility back on track, in addition to the added requirements that his team maintain proper social distancing and wear personal protective equipment at all times. However, Foss was confident his group would succeed.
“We’re Hoosiers, we’re doers and we find ways to take care of our neighbors and our problems,” said Arnold.