In May 2007 Sheriff Kerry Dunaway initiated and began a work program for defendants sentenced in the various courts within the county. Inmates assigned to this program live in a special housing unit adjacent to the detention center and work up to 40 hours per week on county, city, and board of education projects. They perform skilled and general labor for the local governments which, in turn, reduces the length of their sentences. The program has met much success and the first two inmates to complete the program were hired in the private sector based on their work ethics and skills. The program is designed to accomplish exactly what the first two graduates achieved-gainful employment which may prevent them from returning to the criminal justice system.
The following is a copy of a letter Sheriff Dunaway sent to County Commission Chairman Eddie Still regarding the inmate work program.
April 30, 2008
Dear Chairman Still:
Almost one year ago I began an inmate work program here at the jail. Defendants are sentenced to the program by the Superior Court and must work on government projects to gain an early release. Since the program had to be initiated after a regular term of court, we were not able to cycle a complete group through the program until recently.
Beginning December 17, 2007 through April 27, 2008 (19 weeks) a group of inmates completed the work program. During that time they worked at various county, city, and board of education projects. I have compiled a cost / benefit analysis of this program for your review.
Inmates in this 19 week program provided 3,046 hours of labor. Based on the State of Georgia’s minimum wage of $5.85 per hour and subtracting costs to operate the program, the local government entities “profited” from this program. The cost / benefit is as follows:
Labor:3,046 hours x $5.85 = $17,819.10
Another benefit of this program has been reduced medical costs for inmates in the program. We have noticed that inmates working in the program are far less likely to request medical attention than those not in the program. Since there is no way to determine how much medical costs would have been necessary had the inmates not been in the program, this is an unrealized benefit in addition to the inmate labor.
As we enter the spring term of Superior Court I anticipate yet another group of defendants being sentenced to this program. The feedback I’ve received from county, city, and board of education employees supervising inmates in the program has been very positive. If you see a need for any changes in the program please let me know as soon as possible in order that any necessary changes may be implemented.