Local News

March 30, 2014

Inmate work crews stay busy

Save taxpayers money as they make their time pass faster

It’s not unusual to see Whitfield County prisoners in their orange and white uniforms picking up trash along the side of the road, especially with warmer weather on the way.

But what local residents may not be aware of is the fact that the 40 or so members of the Whitfield County jail work crew do a lot more than just clean the roads under the supervision of Sgt. Tracy Davis and Officers Patrick Beach and Jamie Haynes.

For example, members of the work crew have been busy the past few days at the Whitfield County 911 Center, where they have been laying carpet tiles throughout the building.

Lt. Emmit Tate, who oversees the work crew program, calls it “a win-win situation” for the county taxpayers and the inmates.

“The work crews have definitely saved the county a lot of money over the years,” Tate said. “We’ve got the manpower, and the price is right! It helps the budgets of a lot of county departments because they don’t have to pay to have the work done.”

In fact, a just-released report on last year’s activities by the work crew shows that inmates worked a total of 10,536 hours in 2013 — for free. Even if they had been paid minimum wage, their efforts would have added up to more than $75,000 the county would otherwise have had to pay.

While the inmates don’t receive any monetary reward, they do get the reward of staying in a special dormitory for the work crews. Furthermore, their efforts during the day help them complete their sentences faster, or at least it seems that way.

“The way a lot of them look at it is they can sit here and twiddle their thumbs all day,” Tate says, “and you know how long it takes for a minute to go by when you’re just sitting there twiddling your thumbs — man, it makes for a long, long day.

“But if you can get out and you can work and you can do something, before you know it, it’s time to go back to bed so it makes their days go by faster, and that’s why they put in for it because it makes their time — even though it’s still the same amount of time — it just makes it seem like it’s passing faster than it really is.”

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