Tony Briscoe’s been working for about three months to refurbish bikes for kids in need. The Folsom prison inmate is a Chopper builder – as in motorcycles – and he misses it. So he’s taken well to fixing up the other kind of bike:
“Painting and wrenching and it’s cool - I like it – you know, I ride on the streets and this is the closest I can get to them, you know?
Briscoe says it’s the best job in the prison – he’s joined by a handful of other inmates who do the work. Some have mechanical experience like he does – others, not much. Briscoe says it’s become a labor of love:
“I got kids of my own, so when I’m building a bike I kind of think about my own little ones, you know. We don’t get to see the kids when they get the bikes, but we can imagine how they feel.”
About a week ago, the Hangtown Marine Corps League loaded up all 161 bikes for delivery. It’s the most they’ve ever done in the program’s nearly 20 year history. Warden Matthew Kramer says the used bicycles are donated by community members – and then the inmates strip off the old parts and fix them up with new tires, brakes and paint jobs. The parts are donated, too. With the crowded state prison system, Kramer says every job like this is important:
“Even here we have about a thousand inmates who do not have work assignments so this provides work assignments for these inmates and also when inmates are doing something for the kids, this is something that I think gives them some benefit, too.”
It’s clear that’s true for Tony Briscoe. As the last of the bikes are loaded up, he’s thinking about only one thing:
“There goes all our work – hope these kids are going to like them”