County inmates to reduce time by working

Published 9:47 am Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A unique program in the planning stages could help get needed work done in the county while also helping to curb crowding in the Escambia County Detention Center.

Sheriff Grover Smith said Monday that he has been able to secure a work truck to help transport a work crew of up to 10 inmates. The program would only be open to select inmates, he said.

“If they are willing to work that will get a reduction in sentence,” Smith said. “We’re hoping to teach people who have never had a job how to work.”

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Smith said the crew would be overseen by sheriff’s department personnel and would never be out of sight of supervisors. He said the crew could do work such as road or cemetery cleanup or other county tasks.

“We have plenty of work that can be done,” Commissioner Larry White said. “We’ll be able to utilize them.”

Smith said he has spoken to court officials about the program and has their support. Inmates who are approved for and join the program would be able to plead and get credit for time served.

Inmates who step out of line in any way would automatically be taken out of the program.

“If they get rejected they will go back into the system,” Smith said. “If they have a bad attitude, they’re out. They will have to follow the rules. They will never be out of sight of an armed correctional officer.”

Commission Chairman David Stokes thanked Smith for developing the unique program.

“This is something he has taken on his own to do,” Stokes said. “He will get unanimous support from everyone in this county. Headaches for him are what’s good for the county.”

Smith said the program is “the right thing to do.”

“It will be a win-win for all of us,” he said. “My dream is that we’ll have more than 10 on the work crew. My No. 1 concern is public safety. We’re not putting anyone on (the crew) that we’re concerned about.”

Inmates on the work crew will not have contact with other inmates, Smith said