Inmate labor program successfulPublished 3:01pm Wednesday, December 11, 2013
An Escambia County inmate crew has picked up more than 1.2 million pounds of trash on county roads in the two years the program has been in place, Sheriff Grover Smith said.
And Smith hopes to expand the program — although not at any expense to county taxpayers.
“We’re going to have to do something besides just locking (inmates) away,” said Smith, who has sought grant funding to expand the work crew.
With Alabama prisons overcrowded, the state has developed new sentencing guidelines that will largely keep non-violent drug and property crime offenders from long prison terms — guidelines that will likely keep those offenders in county jails.
“Alabama is third in the nation with the percentage of its population in jails,” Smith said. “Law enforcement and courts are doing their job. The problem is corrections. We’re paying money to house and jail them, but they’re coming back worse.”
Smith said the “carrot and stick” approach of putting inmates to work picking up trash can help them develop work skills they will need when they are released.
Smith thanked commissioners for allowing him to start the inmate trash pickup program.
“It’s been a tremendous success,” commission chairman David Stokes said.