By John Lam
An inmate in Folsom State Prison’s bicycle program has single-handedly refurbished 200 bicycles that were gifted to local youths for Christmas, the Folsom Telegraph reported.
“Each morning Argueta Mauricio…heads off to work where he spends his days restoring and repairing bicycles…within the walls of Folsom Prison where inmates, like himself, have been restoring bicycles for decades,” the Telegraph reported.
The Folsom Prison Bicycle Restoration Program has been operating since 1986, with help from the Cameron Park Rotary and Ponderosa High School’s Interact Clubs.
“We’ve been doing this for more than 20 years,” said Joe Ryan of the Cameron Park Rotary Club. “It feels good for everyone involved, starting with the inmates, to the many high school students who help deliver the bikes, to the children who receive them. It’s a wonderful experience.”
Throughout the year, Ryan and his Rotary members procure donated bicycles, regardless of their conditions, from individuals, businesses and disposal sites, the Telegraph reported.
“It’s pretty common to see people just drive up to the front gates and drop off a bike their kids have outgrown,” said Lt. Elton Soriano, administrative assistant and public information officer at Folsom Prison.
Even bicycles that are irreparable are given new life. “They use every part they can off the badly damaged bikes to restore those that need extra parts or a complete rebuild,” said Soriano. “The Rotary provides items like new tubes, lubricants and the tools necessary to make the repairs throughout the year.”
Mauricio competed in the El Salvadoran equivalent of the Tour de France at the age of 16. “I have always loved repairing bicycles,” he said. “When I get out, my hope is to work for a bike shop and eventually open my own place. I love helping people, especially young people, and I want to continue doing that when I am out.”
To qualify for the bike program, inmates must be non-violent offenders and have 42 months or less remaining on their sentences. Mauricio is currently the sole inmate in the program.