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(a) The commissioner of corrections may establish and operate conservation camps in which persons committed to the commissioner of corrections may be placed. Such camps may be established independently or in cooperation with any other public agency or any governmental subdivision, subject to the approval of such agency or subdivision as to any camp or project to the extent that its premises or operations are affected.

(b) Every able-bodied person committed as provided in paragraph (a) may be confined to a conservation camp established pursuant to this section or to any other institution under the control of the commissioner, subject to the limitations of section 242.19. Any person committed to a conservation camp as herein provided may be required by order of the commissioner to labor during the whole or some part of the time for which so committed and confined, but not more than eight hours per day. The commissioner is authorized and empowered to determine the payment of such compensation to persons so confined who perform labor as hereinabove provided. Any money arising hereunder shall be and remain under control of the commissioner and shall be for the sole benefit of the person performing the labor unless it shall be used for rendering assistance to the laborer's family or dependents or in making restitution to persons determined by the commissioner to be entitled thereto, in either event payments shall be made only in such amount, at such time and to such persons as the commissioner may order in writing.