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Report To The People

Inmate Work Program Needs To Continue

By Tommy Reynolds

You may have read recent reports of the plan to remove state prisoners from our county prisoner workforce efforts that have helped provide needed services to our counties, towns and communities.  These prisoners have worked hard to help improve the appearance of public spaces, provided needed custodial and repair services for our public buildings and even helped repair our taxpayer-owned machinery and vehicles. In addition to the services this program provides, the county has received as much as $20 per individual inmate per day – that income translates into millions of dollars per year for our rural counties.

Now, it appears that the Director of the Mississippi Department of Correction is going to remove these workers from the Joint-State County Work Program and place them in other  facilities which would cost more per inmate. 

Counties that would be relinquishing their inmate workers will not only have to pay for the services they once performed, but we will also have to absorb substantial losses of income to our county budgets. Additionally, these inmates will be moved to locations where the state must pay larger amounts to house them.

The Joint-State County Work Program is a vital program for counties and local government and our citizens, as well as for the State of Mississippi.  The program has saved millions of dollars for local taxpayers, while at the same time allowing inmates to work rather than languish away in prison cells.

I am in favor of drafting legislation to allow even more inmates to work under the current program and mandating that this program be implemented in even more counties than at present.  I have spoken to House Corrections Committee members and other legislators who are in agreement with me.  We should guarantee the existence of this program that has been so successful for many, many years.

This should not a partisan issue, but is a Mississippi issue and one that should be addressed at the first available moment in the upcoming legislative session slated to begin in January.

My hope is that the Department of Corrections will consider the requests of the local county officials, as well as legislators and others in support of continuing the program.  It is always more sensible to allow incarcerated individuals to have the opportunity to work and contribute to society, rather than spend their time behind bars with no chance of working to gain experience so that they can become responsible, contributing citizens. The Joint-State County Work Program has helped to fulfill this need. 

Please feel free to contact me at 1720 N. Main St., Water Valley, MS 38965 or email thomasureynolds@bellsouth.net or (662) 473-2571.

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