Inmate work crew in Flagler saves taxpayers $75,000

Non-violent offenders provide landscaping, grounds-keeping services

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – In its first year of operation, the inmate work crew in Flagler County has saved taxpayers $75,000, according to the Sheriff's Office.

As part of the program, non-violent offenders provide landscaping and grounds-keeping services at the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility complex, the FCFRD fire tower training center area, the FCSO Operations Center, the Flagler County Storage Yard, the Eagle Lake Water Plant, the Fire Flight Airport Hanger complex and Old Dixie Park.

Other duties include cleaning a homeless camp, removing old graphics on police vehicles going to auction, moving furniture and filling sandbags before Hurricane Irma.

Michael Allison, 31, is among the inmates in the program. He's servicing a sentence he said stems from a drug addiction.

"Nobody wants to stand by and do their time sitting down," Allison said. "So, giving back, paying back my debt to the community, you know is always good."

Deputies said the inmates selected to participate are supervised by a detention deputy at no additional cost to taxpayers.

Allison said his work crew supervisor Deputy Shannon Cowen is like a mentor.

"You're actually able to help some of these guys out because some of them never worked. Some of them never had a job," Cowen said. "(It) gives them a little bit of structure."

Staly said the Inmate Work Crew benefit everyone involved.

“The taxpayer savings from not having to pay for outsourcing these services speak for themselves," Sheriff Rick Staly said. "There is absolutely no downside to having the Inmate Work Crew, we are saving tax dollars and providing much-needed work experience for the inmates where they learn how to use landscaping equipment.”

Staly added that programs of this kind can help rehabilitate offenders and provide them a better chance of being successful once they are released from jail.

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