Prison work crews help state's budget crisis - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Prison work crews help state's budget crisis

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By Alicia Eakin - bio | email

September 25, 2008

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - They do jobs no one else will.

"We do a lot of weed eating, trimming. Really a lot of landscaping work," says Patrick Moore.

And by doing the labor they are saving you money.  "They are getting a big labor force for a low cost and it's saving taxpayer dollars," says Valdosta State Prison Warden Darrell Hart.

They are prison work crews, a group of inmates who work ten hour days, four days a week, 52 weeks a year. All that labor only costs local governments the salary of one officer.

"Our officers salary versus having to pay 12 individuals salary plus benefit packages and retirement packages so it's saving quite of bit of money," says Tony Morris, Unit Manager of the Prison Annex.

"If you add the salaries of 10-12 people at minimum wages, it's going to come up around $100,000," Hart adds.

Now more than ever they are being called to jobs that agencies either can't do or can't pay for due to the state budget crisis.

"A lot of agencies now with the budget crunch that we are in are beginning to call and get special details to clean up certain stuff like your parks and recreation," Hart says.

These inmates say they are happy to help.

"It's good to come out and work and do something for the community because even thought it's not this one we tore down, it feels like we are giving something back to them," says Moore, who's an inmate in the prison.

Because in the end, it's helping them.

Prison administrators say while it saves the taxpayers money, it also give these inmates something to look forward to when they get out.

"It helps motivate you when you get out to go look for a job. It's real good," Moore adds.

The warden says work details help with behavior as well.

The inmates don't get bored, they get up early and are tired when they return to the facility.

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