Preparing for the New Inmate Work Program

By Wyatt Goolsby
NewsWest 9

Midland County officials have come up with a plan to deal with some of our local law-breakers. Instead of putting them all in jail, some inmates will be put to work. NewsWest 9 found out how much taxpayers in Midland could save with this new plan in place.

Right now authorities in the Midland County Sheriff's Office are hard at work to make sure everything is ready for the beginning of this inmate work program. It's only a program for criminals sentenced for misdemeanor charges, meaning anything like petty theft, vandalism, disorderly conduct, or anything that would put a person in jail for a year or less. And Sheriff Gary Painter said putting them in a work program is a great way to save time and money for an overcrowded jail.

"Ten people in a thirty day period, can cost the taxpayers 16-thousand dollars sitting in a cell," said Painter.

So who much money can be saved with this new work program?

"Ten people in thirty days on a work project will cost them somewhere in the neighborhood of 35-hundred dollars," explained Painter.

And that's enough of a difference to have county commissioners, along with the district attorney to agree that putting criminals to work is a good idea.

"And that way they can work off their sentence instead of costing the taxpayers more money by keeping them in jail. They will be out actually working, instead of laid up, you know, watching television and eating food and taking up space," explained Midland County District Attorney Teresa Clingman.

So where exactly will the inmates go to work?

"Finding a way to keep them busy is not going to be a problem, as many pieces of property as the government's got, you got city parks, you've got the sports complex, we've got streets, we've got, county roads, you've got trash in every one of them, and all of that needs to be picked up," said Painter.

Painter also said for those who are in the program, the work won't be a cakewalk.

"We're going to have holes, we are going to have shovels, we are going to have scythes, they are going to work, and they're going to earn their keep. And it's not for the feint of heart; it's going to be for people that have committed a crime that need to pay back to society," explained Painter.

County Commissioners have allocated around 40,000 dollars for the work program. They said it will help in the long run, because criminals will still have to serve out their sentence, and not have to waste more money keeping them in jail cells.