Skill set constantly changing
Since the population at the jail is constantly changing for various reasons, the skills of the work crews are constantly changing, too.
“From time to time, we have inmates that come through with different skills,” Tate says, recalling the time a mason was able to help with a project that divided a large room at the jail in half — with a new wall made out of concrete blocks.
“The only thing it cost us was the mortar and the blocks,” Tate says. “We had the free labor” thanks to the special talents of the mason.
Sometimes they have the luxury of having professional painters on the work crew. “When we’ve got painters in here, that’s when we start doing a lot of painting around here,” he says.
Tate says that it’s usually after an inmate has been named to the work crew that officials find out their exact talents.
“I know one time we were trying to pressure wash the sidewalks and the outside blocks of the building,” he says, “and one of the inmates told us he ran a pressure washing business on the outside. Really? Yeah, man, that’s what I do on the outside. Well, come on and let’s see how well you do it! He was knocking it out twice as fast as we were doing it before because he knew how to operate the equipment and maximize the use of it. So it worked out well.”
The work crews normally work Monday through Friday, but sometimes they work on the weekends to tackle jobs that would interfere with normal operations.
“Patrick and Jamie have been working some Saturdays and Sundays painting at the courthouse,” Tate explains. “We’ve got holding cells there, and they’re being used all week long to hold inmates waiting to go into the courtroom. Since they have court basically Monday through Friday, we can’t very well paint Monday through Friday because the cells are being used. So they’ve been painting them on Saturdays and Sundays.”