Blakely- Early County Sheriff Jimmie Murkerson refuses to speak to Newscenter 10 about his current issues with protesters who want him to step down. But he did talk to us 16 months ago when the allegations were first made.
Murkerson defended the use of inmates to clean up private property. He said one area inmates cleaned was considered a nuisance, and cleaning it was community service. The inmates were also paid for their labor.
"People break the law," said the sheriff in February of 2002. "Some people don't have money to pay fines. We don't like to keep people locked up in jail because of a lack of funds. Therefore we give them the opportunity to work it off."
It's a misdemeanor for any person to use an inmate for personal gain, but the code does not apply to community service work programs.