Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mississippi Dept of Corrections Needs to Renegotiate Inmate Work Programs; Not End Them

The Mississippi Department of Corrections is putting an end to county inmate work programs effective August 1. The reason? The state pays participating jails $20 a day per state inmate held within a county jail, and this is money the MDOC feels can be put to better use elsewhere.

 Pearl River County Sheriff David Allison said:
  • ...cutting the inmate work program will be devastating to the county. Trusty inmates in Pearl River County work on litter crews, maintenance on county buildings and lawn care on county property, said Allison. Allison’s kitchen staff at the Pearl River County Jail is also made up of inmates who are responsible for preparing 350 meals a day. If sixty workers were brought in to replace the inmates it would cost an estimated $1.8 million, said Allison. [Picayune Item]

 But, the Department of Corrections has a very valid concern. So does Allison. And inmate work programs are a good form of rehabilitation. I am not sure what kind of negotiation would be amicable but I think the goal of any negotiation should have two goals in mind (on top of the money issue): 1) To reduce costs on the counties instead of ending program and 2) prisoner rehabilitation. Those two things in mind should produce  a win-win for both sides in the end.