County’s inmate program off to slow start

Published 8:49 pm Friday, July 11, 2014

Pike County’s inmate work release program has gotten off to a slow start.

Since its conception about two months ago, the county has rarely received the four inmates requested daily, officials say. Even so, County Commission Chair Homer Wright still supports the program.

“So far, it’s good. But some days we don’t get as many as we’d like to. I feel like we’re low on the totem pole,” he said.

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The inmates come from the Elba Work Release Center and because the program is new to Pike County, other municipalities take priority. A supervisor from the county roads department was trained in managing inmates. He transports them to and from Elba and handles daily assignments. Elba has to have at least two inmates available for the supervisor to make the trip.

Commissioners Joey Jackson, Charlie Harris and Jimmy Barron formed a committee to research the county’s roadside litter problems and form a plan last March, after hearing complaints from constituents.

“I’m tired and my constituents are tired of our county roads looking like a landfill,” said Barron.

The committee’s solutions focused on cleaning up the litter, not punishing those who dump it, since commissioners said punishing those who are dumping the trash would be an uphill battle. Jackson said law enforcement would have to see the people litter in order to fine them.

“If we could consistently get four inmates, we could accomplish a lot,” said Wright.

The program is inexpensive to run, according to Wright. It cost the county a few hours of overtime for the supervisor. The county must pay each inmate $15 a day if lunches are not provided and $10 a day if the county feeds them.

Wright said the county had no plans of investing more in training other supervisors or requesting more than four inmates at a time.

“We’re not equipped to handle too many more than four or five inmates. We would have more people trained to be in a supervisory role,” he said. “But, we’re going to try to stick with it.”