Inmates on the Outside: Officials explain ‘tremendous resource’ of inmate labor

inmates

Walton County inmates work to beautify and maintain the grounds around the Walton Court Courthouse Annex in South Walton in this 2010 photo.

Walton Sun File Photo
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 16:52 PM.

 

Last weekend, Walton County inmates participated in the local community clean-up at Legion Park sponsored by Commissioner Sara Comander. However the sight of prisoners in black and white striped jumpsuits shooting hoops raised eyebrows among a few passersby.

Driving past the park last weekend, Destin resident David Wood said he saw a dozen or so inmates playing basketball while officers sat in lawn chairs.

"There was a piece of heavy equipment off to side. It would be my guess they were waiting on something," he said. "Seems like a waste of taxpayer money to have a dozen employees sitting in lawn chairs on a Friday and Saturday. There could've been a better use of county employees' and inmates' time if they didn't have any work for them."

According to Major Stan Sunday, director of the Walton County Department of Corrections, the inmates were just taking a break to "shoot some hoops" in between citizens delivering their trash. The quarterly clean-up days are the county's answer to keeping the community free of unsightly waste dumped in the woods or on the side of the road. Inmates collected approximately 4000-pounds of trash at last weekend's clean-up.

The department has received calls about inmates working in the community in the past, but Sunday said it's not a common complaint. Commissioner Sara Comander has been working with inmates since 2004 when she was the public information coordinator with the Clerk of Court’s office. Since taking office as a commissioner in 2006, she has worked alongside the inmates at community clean-ups and has never heard any complaints about the program.

"I find them respectful, decent and more than willing to work," she said.



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