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Inmates clean roads, save money

Clark County sheriff says program benefits taxpayers and those in jail.

The Clark County Sheriff’s office is going green to save green.

Inmates in the Clark County Jail’s PRIDE program are working to clean township and county roads of trash and debris. The group has also been contracted to pick up trash along Ohio’s highways from Montgomery to Madison counties this year. Since the inmates clean the roadways for free, Sheriff Gene Kelly said jurisdictions are able to save on labor and direct those tax dollars elsewhere, saving thousands.

“In the first three months (of) 2013, the inmates worked 2,906 hours, and you multiply that times minimum wage and that’s a savings to this community (and) to the taxpayers of over $22,000,” Kelly said.

Labor isn’t the only cost-savings. Daniel Miller, who is currently incarcerated in the jail on a receiving stolen property charge, received a 120-day sentence. But by working in the PRIDE program, he won’t have to serve all that time.

“They knocked off 30 days. I get one day (credit) for every two days work,” he said.

It costs the county about $65 a day to house an inmate. Cutting Miller’s release date by 30 days is saving about $2,000, Kelly said.

The PRIDE program has been in effect for more than 20 years. Kelly estimates the area has saved more than $1 million in labor and housing expenses since its inception. On top of those savings, items collected get recycled with the proceeds funding program supplies.

“Those are real tax dollars for the taxpayers of Clark County,” Kelly said.

Getting exercise and spending time outside in the spring and summer months instills a good work ethic, too, Kelly said. And for inmates such as Miller, it also beats being locked up.

“It’s fun,” he said. “(It’s) not freedom, but we get fresh air (and) get exercise instead of laying in the jail all the time.”

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