Sheriff Gobble: Inmate Work Program

Thursday, January 29, 2009 - by Sheriff Tim Gobble

I have never liked the idea of inmates "lazing" around in a jail cell all day, being fed on the taxpayers' dime and receiving free healthcare. In Bradley County, they don't.

I can tell you firsthand, there are few amenities in our jail. There is no smoking in the jail, no weight equipment and very little television time. What inmates can watch on TV and what they can read is restricted and used for our benefit. Being an inmate is not a free ride, either. They are charged for certain aspects of their incarceration, so they actually pay for a portion of the experience of being locked up.

Inmates help keep the jail clean and orderly. They sweep, mop and wax floors. They cook food and wash dishes in the kitchen. They do laundry, they paint, they disinfect the common areas, they sort food and commissary items, and they perform any and all other duties as needed. Inmates are not lazing around in Bradley County.

There are plenty of things that need to be done outside the jail, too. The BCSO's Inmate Work Program has been a great success and allows qualified inmates to perform much-needed tasks outside in the community. This not only alleviates a lot of work that would otherwise have to be done by the county's maintenance and roads department, it also offers great savings to the taxpayer in many areas.

I was very pleased with the year-end progress report from the BCSO's inmate work program. The main objectives of the Work House Program are to provide services for the betterment of the Bradley County community by using inmate labor to save taxpayer money and instill a sense of accomplishment and self-worth in inmates who otherwise may not receive positive reinforcement.

Outside the jail, inmates perform a wide range of duties throughout Bradley County, including one crew that works full-time at the Tri-State Exhibition Center, one crew that assists the Road Department with their work, one crew at the BCSO garage helping to maintain our fleet, and two crews on roadside and litter cleanup, painting brickwork at schools, etc. Only low-risk inmates are allowed to participate in the outdoors program and they are well-supervised while away from the Justice Center. They do a good job and bring a positive attitude to any task to which they are assigned.

In 2008, the outside work crews completed projects at Lake Forest Middle School, Black Fox Elementary, Walker Valley High, Charleston Elementary, Bradley High, Tennessee Christian Academy, the Bradley County Justice Center, the 911 Center, Habitat for Humanity, the Tri-State Exhibition Center, and Union Grove Cemetery.

Again, I am especially proud of the inmate work program because of the money it saves taxpayers and the sense of purpose it gives the inmates themselves. I have found that many prisoners are anxious to do something constructive during their incarceration and the work program helps them do just that. The inmate work program continues to be a positive experience for everyone involved and my congratulations go out to the deputies who administer the program and the inmates who participate.

The Bradley County Sheriff's Office is located at 2290 Blythe Ave., SE, Cleveland 37311. Visit us online at: www.bradleysheriff.com. If you would like to contact me personally, email: comments@bradleysheriff.com


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