Midland Inmate Work Program Cleaning Up County Streets

By Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

Midland County streets are a little cleaner now. 

Inmates have been out picking up trash as a part of a new type of county inmate work program. 

It's not only improving the community, but it's saving you money.

Midland County leaders say this is a new way of handling low-risk inmates that would normally be taking up jail space and taxpayer dollars. 

This program is different from the regular inmate program.

These individuals were sentenced by a judge to several days of community service. 

Officials say, this is a win-win situation for everyone.

"They're not in the jail taking up space, they're not in there eating our food, and costing the taxpayers money," Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter, said. "They're actually out doing work, doing something to help themselves, really, but also to satisfy a sentence."

Monday marked the start of the County Inmate Work Program. Fourteen low-risk, misdemeanor offenders picked up 65 bags of trash along County Road 60 until they reached Highway 1788.

"We'll continue working on county roads picking up trash, but as the program continues, we'll do other projects like painting and working with non-profit organizations," Captain Terrisa Candelaria with the Midland Police Department, said.

This new initiative is saving big bucks. Housing inmates costs the county almost $55 a day.

"We've accomplished cutting our cost, to the taxpayers in Midland, also, putting these folks, as the sheriff said, would normally be sitting in a jail cell out doing work that benefits the community, and saving the taxpayers money there," Teresa Clingman, District Attorney for Midland County, said.

Rather than spending time in a cell, the county wants to find useful projects for these low risk law breakers.

"We're trying to break the cycle of these people coming into jail and just spending their time and not getting out," Sheriff Painter said.

If they don't show up for their court-appointed work dates, they'll head straight to jail where an even heftier sentence will be waiting for them.

"We have a choice," Midland County Judge Mike Bradford, said. "We can let them sit in the jail and occupy time, dollars, and personnel at a higher level, or we can put them out doing community good for fewer dollars and less personnel level."

About 15 to 20 individuals will be working at each project site.  

Their length of service is determined based on the severity of the crime.