News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Using work release good deal for governments

Work-release teams like the two that moved quickly to clean the riverbank at Rhodes Ferry Park and at the Wilson Morgan Park lake Tuesday afternoon contribute about $9 million annually in free labor across the state.

Decatur and surrounding communities are in position to use more of this free labor because the city is home to one of the stateís largest work-release programs. The 430-bed facility on Alabama 20 West is usually full, which means some inmates are available for work most days.

As recently as July, some 198 inmates went to paying jobs in area industries, but another 183 went out with guards to do community work.

Ideally, all of the inmates will find paying jobs because the state Department of Corrections keeps 40 percent of their pay to help fund the system. Inmates who owe victim restitution pay another 40 percent but keep the remainder of the money from their paychecks.

Tuesday, 14 inmates filled 16 bags of litter from the riverbank at Rhodes Ferry Park and another crew filled six bags at the Wilson Morgan lake.

The work-release facility is here and isnít likely to close any time in the foreseeable future. The inmates were convicted of non-violent crimes and pose little or no threat to the community.

Thus, it makes sense for the city and county to use more of them to help pick up litter. For sure, we have plenty of work to keep them busy.

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