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Adirondack ice palace built by 'shock' camp inmates

Mike Groll / AP

Adam Bloss of Rochester, N.Y., an inmate at the Moriah Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility, cuts ice blocks from Lake Flower to be used in the construction of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival ice palace on Jan. 28, in Saranac Lake, N.Y.

Mike Groll / AP

Inmates from the Moriah Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility line up before helping construct the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival ice palace on Jan. 28, in Saranac Lake, N.Y.

By Michael Hill, The Associated Press

It's a far cry from breaking rocks in the hot sun on a chain gang. In New York's Adirondack Mountains, inmates break ice on a frozen lake to make a giant winter palace.

A work crew from an area "shock" prison camp once again this year helped local volunteers create this mountain village's lakeside ice palace — the shimmering centerpiece of the annual Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, starting Friday.

Under snowy skies this week, inmates marched onto the frozen lake in military formation in winter-weight prison greens and hard hats. Working alongside the volunteers, they were handed poles to break off blocks or head-high saws to cut through the ice. Others in the boot camp-style incarceration program were dispatched to the tall walls of the palace with buckets of slush to fit between blocks like mortar.

"Sir, yes sir! This is an experience of a lifetime, sir," said inmate Patrick O'Donnell. The 24-year-old from Long Island, like all inmates at Moriah Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility, answers questions like a new military recruit.

"Sir, where I live there's not much snow, so to see something like this is an experience, sir."

Moriah, about 45 miles from Saranac Lake through twisting mountain roads, houses a six-month shock program designed to build character and self-esteem.

Prisoners convicted of nonviolent offenses like burglary, forgery or drug sales can shave months or years off their sentences by successfully completing a shock program — but it's tough. Inmates wake up at 5:30 a.m. for intense days of exercise, academics and substance abuse treatment.

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Mike Groll / AP

Volunteer Jeff Branch, top, and inmates from the Moriah Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility, work on the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival ice palace on Jan. 28, in Saranac Lake, N.Y.

Mike Groll / AP

Inmates from the Moriah Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility, wearing green, work with volunteers breaking off ice blocks from Lake Flower that will be used to construct the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival ice palace on Jan. 28, in Saranac Lake, N.Y.

Mike Groll / AP

Naquan Shideo from the Brooklyn borough of New York, an inmate at the Moriah Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility, uses slush water to seal ice blocks while helping construct the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival ice palace on Jan. 28, in Saranac Lake, N.Y.

Mike Groll / AP

Inmates from the Moriah Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility, wearing green, work with volunteers breaking off ice blocks from Lake Flower that will be used to construct the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival ice palace on Jan. 28, in Saranac Lake, N.Y.

Mike Groll / AP

An inmate from the Moriah Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility cuts ice blocks from Lake Flower that will be used to construct the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival ice palace on Jan. 28, in Saranac Lake, N.Y.

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