By Carrie Dillard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The Laurel County Detention Center will start its first-ever female work release program this month.
While this is a new endeavor for the jail, Jailer Jamie Mosley said he feels it is a win-win-win.
“The taxpayers, the inmates, the staff – it’s a positive for everybody involved.”
When he took office, there were only 18 inmates on work release. Today, there are 44 male inmates involved in the program.
“I’ve had the idea for some time,” he said, “to give the ladies the same opportunity to do community service like the men do.”
State classified inmates (Class D) get first priority to work on a crew. Because work release supervisors know the length of their stay, state inmates offer greater stability for the program and less turnover.
Right now, there are less than 15 females even eligible for this kind of work.
Mosley will start small. A team of four females will begin roadside garbage pickup in the next two weeks. The only difference between the female and male teams on duty is that the ladies will wear pink.
In March alone, male crews removed 8,000 pounds of trash from county roadways.
“I’d hate to think what our roadside would look like without them,” Mosley said. “And that’s why we also want to encourage people not to litter and to slow down while driving near our crews. These folks are doing community service; the last thing we want is to see one of them, or our officers, get injured.”
Mosley said he is very proud of the work they are doing. Crews regularly man the recycling center, maintain the North and South Little League fields, as well as the Optimist Club property. Crews recently hung drywall and painted the sheriff’s office and removed brush and trees at Levi Jackson State Park.
“This program saves the county thousands of dollars, in our building alone, because it is all done with inmate labor,” Mosley said.
“We have some great painters, individuals who can lay tile or sheetrock,” he said. “We poll our inmate community and find out what they have expertise in.”
It’s also a chance for inmates to learn a new skill.
Four inmates became certified in concrete polishing while working at the jail, a unique skill that could lead to a good paying job on the outside, Mosley said.
It also offers them a great sense of pride.
“During the tornado cleanup (last year), there was a huge sense of pride. It was very rewarding to them to see those families get back into their homes.”
Upcoming projects include moving the contents of the old East Bernstadt school into the new school this fall. By offering this service, the school will avoid the cost of professional movers.
“We certainly don’t do that at the expense of private industry, but we are looking out for our tax dollars and taking advantage of the resources we have.”