Wayne county working to acquire state prisoner program

Wayne county working to acquire state prisoner program
Wayne county working on state prisoner work program. Photo credit WDAM

WAYNE COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The Wayne County Sheriff's Department is working on a way to help minimum security inmates better themselves before being released.

It centers around a work program. The department currently has a program, but it only helps prisoners work off fines.

"We have a prisoner work program, where prisoners can work their fines off," Sheriff Jody Ashley said. "They have two trucks where they go out and pick up trash and help the board of supervisors. We are trying to implement a state prisoner work program."

The only thing preventing this program from happening is pending approval from the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Ashley and Jail Administrator Cynthia Terrell are in communication with MDOC.

"We have to get approval from the MDOC," Ashley said. "We're waiting on that right now. It's a larger program. I'm hoping, for the future of Wayne County, having a work center where these prisoners can go to and work for trade."

According to Ashley, the program would benefit Wayne County as prisoners would work manual labor and complete several jobs in the county.

"A lot of times, supervisors are low in man power," Ashley said. "They can use these prisoners to work every day. So, the goal in Wayne county is to move forward on this state prisoner work program."

"That gives us workers to send out to the county barns, the hospitals, the county truck, even on the county pick up crew to keep our roads clean," Terrell said.

According to the MDOC, inmates in the South Mississippi Correctional Institution provided "73,775-man hours of free labor valued at $534,868.75."

In 2013, inmates at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility provided 520 man-hours of free labor for the month of October, valued at $3,770.00.

The benefits of a state prisoner work program are well documented, but prisoners will benefit the most from this. The focal point of any work program is to make sure inmates don't end up back in jail after being released.

"Let's just say you have one back there who doesn't have a GED, we'll get him a GED," Ashley said. "Plus, he can learn some trades. Hopefully, he'll be successful so when he gets out, he can get a job and move forward with his life."

"Whether, you're holding one a long time or not," Ashley said. "Once he does get out, he can move forward, get a job, and not come back to jail."