California State Prison inmate Raymond Richards, 25, scrubs one of the grave markers that have garnered so much attention lately. Richards was one of eight inmates at the Mormon Island Relocation Cemetery in El Dorado Hills Friday to help clean the site through the California Prison Industries Authority program.

A cemetery tucked away on the border of El Dorado Hills and Folsom received a sprucing up thanks to prison inmates on Friday.

Known as the California Prison Industry Authority, the program provides inmates job skills they can use to find employment after release. During Friday’s cleanup, eight inmates were at the Mormon island Relocation Cemetery with a correctional officer standing watch. They raked, scrubbed and knocked down weeds.

According to Marcus Dawson, staff services manager with the prisoner training program, the Cal-PIA hopes to offer their services to replace the markers that bear a derogatory term. They are hoping to partner with an organization to supply the granite.

“Basically, we could provide the labor at no cost,” Dawson said. “Cal-PIA comes to the rescue.”

As reported in the Telegraph, there are 36 grave markers created by an Auburn-based contractor that read, “Unknown, Moved from (N-word) Hill Cemetery by U.S. Government — 1954.”

The bodies and gravestones were moved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from their resting places more than 60 years ago to make way for Folsom reservoir, commonly known today at Folsom Lake, created by the completion of Folsom Dam. According to the contract the Army Corps has with Bill Gross, of Auburn, the wording on the grave markers had to be approved and provided to Gross. The Corps issued an official apology when they released all documents related to the project a few weeks ago.

Numerous mining settlements and private cemeteries were relocated from the area to El Dorado Hills in 1954.

The prison program’s proposal would create a monument, preserving one of the “n-word” grave markers, to explain the history and the story behind the common use of the word at the time.

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