During their last work session, the council heard a presentation from public works director Leeroy Shepherd describing the inmate work release/work detail program offered through the Bartow County Sheriff's Office.
"It's an opportunity to get some free labor from the inmates," Shepherd said. "We can bring them out and use them around city hall to wash the police cars and stuff like that and it gives them an opportunity, the ones that they can put trust in, to get out and get things changed around in their lives too. They would be working around city hall, cleaning and mopping or waxing floors."
According to work detail rules and guidelines provided by the Sheriff's Office, there are more than 20 main rules that detail supervisors must abide by in order to participate in the program. Responsible parties also must participate in a course for education on the program before being allowed to receive inmates.
Those rules include not allowing the inmates to receive visitors and if an attempt to meet visitors is made, the Sheriff's Office inmate coordinator must be notified for a security review.
Other rules also prohibit an inmate's use of telephones, leaving the work area for any reason, accepting money as payment for work activities, no access to any retail establishment including restaurants and convenience stores. Inmates also may not work on private property, handle loaded weapons or ammunition, receive mail or packages and enter secures areas, secured equipment or secured classified information.
Breaks must be provided throughout the day and in hot weather seasons extra breaks should be given. During these breaks, inmates are to be separated from tools for security reasons and, as in all times while inmates are present, a supervisor must maintain constant visual contact.
"What [Euharlee] would be getting is work detail [inmates]," BCSO Sgt. Gavin Wilkins, inmate work release/work detail coordinator said. "Those are people that are on probation. Their probation officer has sentenced them to pay off a fine toward their probation."
Wilkins explained that detail is designed only for inmates working to pay off probation according to their sentence, while the work release program is an entirely different field.
"The crews on the road, that's the Bumble Bee crew for Bartow Beautiful," Wilkins said. "Those are typically sentenced by a probate court. They have small fines and a small amount of time to do. Work detail is for people sentenced by either state probation or misdemeanor probation. They have to work off a fined amount.
"Work release [is like those in jail for child support], Wilkins continued. "If they don't have a job they have to go out and find a job and in their court order it stipulates how much the child support is, how much they would have to pay to be released. On work release they leave on their own. With work detail, whoever they work for has to pick them up and bring them back. In work release, they either drive their vehicles or have someone come pick them up. The court order stipulates they may work Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., within those times, unless the judge puts in there they can work a different time."
Inmates on work detail will be provided with a lunch. Those on work release are required to acquire any meals on their own.
Wilkins also said that although inmates on work detail are paying off a fine, they are not receiving a pay check.
"Even though they're working off their fined amount, they don't receive a pay check," Wilkins said. "So, it's just deducted from the fine amount. They make minimum wage and it depends on what the fine is to determine how long it will take them to pay the fine off."
Basically, though, Euharlee would be receiving the labor for free.
"They're getting the labor and don't have to pay them," Wilkins said. "They go out there and work and do whatever they need them to do out there like wash cars or cut grass or whatever needs to be done."
The city council is expected to approve the program and possibly vote on the issue at their next meeting, Tuesday, March 6 at 7 p.m. at city hall.