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The Laurel County Correctional Center is building a new jail, and after Jailer Jamie Mosley saw the hired contractors were producing sub-par work, the Correctional Center decided to have inmates finish the job.

The inmates have been polishing and grinding concrete floors, which is a skill that Mosley said is new to the area, so the inmates will hopefully be able to find a job that is in high demand requiring more skill and therefore earning them more money when they are released. Inmates were initially on the clean-up crew in the beginning of the process, but they were later given more skilled work that would assist them more going forward.

“We feel like that’s a huge benefit and a service and vocational training that we’re providing for those inmates to gain a skill set that puts them in a position to be able to look for employment at a much higher rate than a minimum-wage skill set would provide,” Mosley said.

The inmates working have only been charged for nonviolent offenses and have been designated by the Kentucky Department of Corrections fit to be able to work in the community.

They have been grinding and polishing the floor for between three to four weeks and have been working on the new jail for sometime between six to eight weeks, according to Mosley.

The inmates in the program will have some time in their sentence reduced because they are working.

“Each one of the inmates that is on the program had rather be participating and going out and working every day than laying in a cell and doing nothing,” Mosley said. He also said none of the inmates were forced to work and that the program was completely voluntary.

The maximum amount an incarcerated person can profit in a day is $2.42, but if an inmate is working for reduced time then their pay is cut in half, according to the Kentucky Department of Corrections.

Debra Hauser, the executive director for the Court Appointed Special Advocate for Knox and Laurel Counties, said when she got the position in early January inmates painted three offices and hallways in the courthouse annex for a total of four days.

“They did a very good job,” Hauser said. “They were very polite, well-mannered. They worked hard the whole time they were here.”

Kendall Browning, one of the inmates grinding and polishing the concrete, said in a video depicting the work on the Laurel County Fiscal Court’s page that he was able to start learning these skills on day one and said it was a good feeling to accomplish taking a dirty, rough floor to one that is shiny and durable.

The inmates are also finishing the making of 60 showers, according to the video.

The Laurel County Fiscal Court approved a $3,000,000 budget for the new jail construction project for the third quarter of the year. This came within a $32.7 million budget for the county that also saw funds go to roads, federal grants, economic development and a 50-cent hourly wage raise for county employees.

ccoyle@sentinel-echo.com

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