New Pilot Program Gets Inmates to do Maintenance Work for the City of Midland

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- A new pilot program between the city of Midland and the Midland County Sheriff's Department is getting inmates to pick up the mess that Midlanders have left behind.

Several months ago, the city's Code Enforcement division reached out to Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter for help. The city tells NewsWest 9, their maintenance workers are stretched thin.

"We have three maintenance specialists that have gone out for the last five years to work, but now there's more people in Midland and there's more stuff happening. They just can't physically keep up," city of Midland Building Official, Steve Thorpe, said.

So Sheriff Painter agreed to give the city access to inmates who'd be able to provide additional maintenance support.

"The city sent two employees to jailer school. They've now been certified as jailers through the state of Texas," Painter said.

Now, a handful of times each month, the city employees with jailer certifications take the inmates out to do maintenance work. The inmates specifically focus on removal of trash and overgrown weeds in alleys and removal of graffiti from buildings around the city.

"This past Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, [the inmates] have taken a combined 23 loads of debris to the landfill that was picked out of alleys, totaling at more than 15 tons of debris," Painter said.

All inmates who participate in the program are considered "minimum security" and "low risk".

"Sure, they've committed a crime. They're in here doing time or they're waiting for court proceedings. They're not going to hurt anybody and they're not going to do anything to create harm. They're not going to run off," Painter said.

The city is now looking to create an inmate work supervisor position so that they are able to expand the program.