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

Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 04:52 PM.

While Wood says the inmates are probably “fine citizens,” he told The Sun he would rather them play ball on their own court — especially since the jail does have a court of its own.

"It's not a nice public image for the county," he said. "What if you wanted to take your kids to the park or if your 13-year-old wanted to go to the park with some friends?"

The Florida Model Jail Standards and the Florida Corrections Accreditation Standards requires that inmates have the opportunity to have a minimum of three hours of outdoor exercise per week, weather permitting.

To work inside and outside of the jail facilities is considered a privilege and requires inmates to go through an initial classification and an objective classification interview. Inmates allowed to work outside their cell are called trustees.

"It is through this process that their eligibility to become and work as a trustee is determined," Sunday said. "Obviously, not all inmates are eligible. Of those that are eligible to work as a trustee, some are restricted to working inside the facility due to their classification and risk assessment. Others, again based on their classification and the approval of the support services lieutenant, are eligible to work outside the facility."

According to the Walton County Department of Corrections policy, inmates are selected based upon current and past charges, disciplinary records and overall adaptation to the jail environment. The eligibility of any inmate to participate in the work program is solely the decision of the classification department.

Inmates granted the privilege to work outside the jail perform tasks countywide such as trash pick-up, lawn maintenance, building maintenance and roadwork and right-of-way maintenance. They are a common sight along the side of the road, even along Scenic Highway 98. Anytime an inmate is working outside the facility, he or she is accompanied by an officer or a trained, certified county employee.

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