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Representatives from the Kentucky Department of Corrections who regularly inspect the LaRue County Detention Center held a training last week for anyone interested in participating in the jail’s work release program.
Inspectors Kirstie Willard and C.L. Watts met with supervisors of local businesses Thursday to discuss the process of using inmates to perform work in their agencies. Attending the training is mandatory in order to participate in the Class D work program.
Last month, Joey Stanton, the jail’s consultant at the time, suggested that the work program be suspended due to lack of training and supervision on the work sites. Now, as chief administrative officer, Stanton said he’s attempting to inform the public and improve the program.
During last week’s training session, Willard and Watts discussed how the work program would benefit local businesses, the community and the inmates involved.
“It’s free labor - that’s exactly what it amounts to,” said Watts. “We hope to rehabilitate these inmates and teach them a new skill.”
The investigators also discussed how to handle problems that may arise for participants of the program, such as manipulation of the supervisors by the inmates, use of contraband, inmate escapes, transportation to and from the jail and potential medical costs.
Another topic of discussion during the training was accidents. Watts said that, when an accident involving an inmate occurs on a work site, investigations will take place.
“All of your activity is going to be scrutinized when an accident happens. Try to take precautions.”
Watts and Willard reminded supervisors that inmates were prohibited from visiting with the public in any way while on a work site.
“We have plenty of inmates out there who can work and who want to work. They are there to work, and that’s it,” said Willard.
While at work, inmates must always wear identifying clothing, the orange vests provided by the detention center. They must never work with or near minors, on a private property or for a private individual. A supervisor should report misconduct of any inmate to the jail immediately.
Watts said that the biggest issue in jails across the state at this time is inmate possession of a cell phone. Most of these cell phones, which are considered contraband, are being acquired while an inmate is on a work site.
Stanton said that the detention center is losing a substantial amount of money that could be made through the jail’s phone services because the number of cell phones present is so high. He cautioned supervisors to watch their inmates carefully. County Judge/ Executive Tommy Turner added that, from now on, any inmate caught with a cell phone or any other type of contraband will be formally charged with promoting contraband.
According to Stanton, the county is making about $1.15 million on inmates each year. Despite the drastic changes he’s planning to make, he said that this revenue will not be jeopardized.
When it comes to the Class D Work Release Program, Stanton said that, all together, businesses and agencies across the county are saving about $504,000 each year in free labor.
In order to save more tax dollars, Stanton suggested that, if possible, businesses participating in the work program should provide their inmates with lunch. This would save the jail over $19,000 in taxpayer money. Compared to the savings experienced by businesses as a result of the program, Stanton said lunch would likely be a very low cost.
“I’m for the taxpayer, and the jail comes first. From now on, the jail’s going to be run right,” said Stanton. “We want to provide these inmates for you. I think it’s a benefit to this community.”