Bradley County Commissioners were told Monday they would see significant savings with a workhouse program instead of housing all inmates at the County Jail.
Rich Kienlen, director of the Bradley County Misdemeanor Probation Department, delivered a brief report on the project. He said the cost to house an inmate at the Bradley County Jail is about $70 a day, while it would cost about $10 a day to house that same inmate at the workhouse. Commissioner Ed Elkins expressed his support for the workhouse project and said that it is going to give some teeth to the enforcement of misdemeanor probation and child support sanctions. Commissioner Jeff Yarber also expressed enthusiasm for the project.
Commissioner Yarber said the United States has the largest prison population in the world, and that it would continue to be a problem until efforts are made to rehabilitate those caught up in the criminal justice system.
He said that one of the reasons there is such a high recidivism rate is that when people are released from incarceration, they have a difficult time finding work and fall back into a life of crime, “This is going to give people six months of work experience, with benefits before they hit the streets,” said Commissioner Yarber.
The commission also passed resolutions to make audit committee resolutions as soon as possible and to press the U.S. Forest Service to maintain and keep open to the public local parks by removing any barrier that blocks access to them. The latter resolution was voted in part to support the bill that is currently making the rounds in Congress to make the majority of the Cherokee National Forrest a permanent and protected wilderness area.
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis announced that Bradley County is a recipient of the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. Bradley County Finance Director Lynn Burns was also presented with a certificate of recognition for her work in preparing the budget.