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

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

"The chance to work outside in the community helps occupy their time and energy doing something productive," Sunday said. "Many jobs have the potential for them to learn a vocation or trade, thus helping them with their chances of gaining meaningful employment upon their release and becoming productive members of society — and the inmate labor is a tremendous resource for the county."

Should a complaint makes its way to the Walton County Department of Corrections, Sunday said he would investigate the complaint to see if the inmate supervisor acted according to policy and procedure or if it was a matter of perception and lack of understanding.

"Either way, we decide whether to continue or discontinue the work they are performing in that particular location," he said.  "If a resident is not comfortable with something we are doing, the first question I would ask is what happened? What are the circumstances? Why are they not comfortable? Based on what they told me, I would decide what course of action was most appropriate."

Comander adds that the inmates are from the county jail, where offenses are typically minor compared to those serving time in prisons.

Despite Wood’s objections, others on the Sun’s Facebook page thought the program had merit.

"Would you prefer them to be in stocks with folks throwing rotting fruits and vegetables at them?" asked firefighter and paramedic Bob Wells. "I am sure a little recreation wouldn't hurt them."

"If no one is using the courts why not?" asked Marleigh Andersen. "No harm, no foul."

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