By Matt Cizek
Clark County Detention Center seeks to help its inmates get back on track by putting them to work on different projects in the area.
The inmate labor program began in 2015 and continued to develop in coordination with the US Marshall’s office.
“The benefit to our community is the free labor provided by the inmates,” said Clark County Jailer Frank Doyle. “Before the pandemic, we calculated the monetary benefit to the community was $545,000 using an hourly rate of $9.00.”
The program employs detained personnel at various county and city festivals, including Beer Cheese Festival, Clark County Fair, 4th of July Celebration, Pioneer Festival, and Labor Day festivities. .
Inmates also participate in county road projects, such as trash pick-up and tire tread collection.
They also help with lawn maintenance, landscaping, snow removal services, and more at the Clark County Courthouse, Clark County Sheriff’s Office, and county employee parking lot.
Inmates for the program are chosen based on their specific criteria and soon the program may no longer be limited to local inmates only.
“We are currently in the process of working out an agreement that we will house federal inmates at our facility,” Doyle said. “I think it’s going to be a tremendous benefit to the taxpayers of Clark County with the federal inmates it’s going to be more money per inmate and if they go to the hospital the federal government covers their medical costs. , so it’s a win-win [situation].”
In addition to physical labor, a number of programs are offered by the detention center in hopes of reducing recidivism and giving inmates a better opportunity upon release, such as GED programs, Achieving Recovery Together’s First Day Forward and a program coming soon. offered online US Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety certification training focused on teaching employable skills.
“They’ll get a certification card so they can go up to an employer and say, ‘I took this course,'” said Ernie Sammons, a chartered accountant. “What probably impressed us the most were the personal skills [and] interview skills.
The program enhancement comes at the right time as the corrections system grapples with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, most of which is financial due to early releases of state inmates.
“While our operating costs generally remain constant, the loss of revenue has been a setback,” Doyle said.
Nevertheless, enhancing the program for community and inmate property is always on the mind.
“We never stopped looking at different methods to increase revenue, thereby reducing the contribution from the taxpayer,” Doyle said.