Sheriff Painter Working on Program to Reduce Inmates and Save Taxpayer Money

By: Cierra Putman
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND COUNTY - For some career criminals in Midland, the inside of a cell is just a part of the job.

"I've been working corrections for eight years and it's a pretty regular basis that we see the same people," Lt. Timothy Telck said. "A lot of them we know them by name, they know us by name."

"There has to be a way to break the habit," Sheriff Painter said. "Some of these people we've dealt with 100 to 200 times."

In Midland County, more than 80 percent of the inmates return to jail.

"That's too high," Painter said.

That's why Painter and Lt. Telck are working to bring the Phoenix Program to Midland County.

"I think education is the key to the whole thing," Painter said.

If County Commissioners approve it, the program will put inmates in life skill classes and help them earn a GED and learn a trade.

Then the County will help the inmates get a job with a local business, one they can keep after they finish serving their time.

"If we can get some success and get maybe 10 or 15 people that would free up 10 or 15 beds," Painter said. "That would save the tax payers a lot of money."

It takes taxpayer money to take care of all the inmates in the Midland County Detention Center. Right now, Sheriff Painter says it costs $60 a day per inmate and those costs keep rising, but they hope with the Phoenix Program, taxpayers will be able to keep more of their money in their wallets.

"Once they get a job, they'll still be in our custody and getting job checks and getting paid in their own way," Telck said. "They'll be paying some of the room and the board and take some of that burden off the taxpayers of Midland County."

They're still working out the kinks to the program, but Painter says he's confident it will help the entire community as a whole.

"It'll save on the number of assault charges, it'll save on dope charges, it'll save jail time, it'll save their family problems," Painter said. "It'll make them a productive citizen. I truly believe we can do that and make it work."

Painter doesn't know how much the program will cost yet as he's still crunching the numbers.

He already has a group of jailers ready to oversee the program if it gets approved.