As many of you already know, I’m a bit frugal. Making the best use of tax payers' dollars has always been a top priority of mine.
One way we do this at the Sheriff’s Office is through the Polk County Jail Inmate Work Program. This is an alternative sentencing program aimed at helping to transform jail inmates convicted of crimes into better citizens through hard work and community service.
Inmates who have committed certain non-violent crimes have the opportunity for a judge to sentence them to the program, giving the inmate the ability to pay their debt to society while saving taxpayers' money by controlling the numbers of inmates in jail. Inmates can work during the week or on the weekend, which allows them to continue to support their families and pay restitution.
In 2022, the Inmate Work Program completed 266 projects for the county and cities. Inmates also picked up trash along roadways and cleaned up parks, schools, public facilities, and cemeteries. Inmates collected 13,832 bags of trash, 4,057 discarded tires, and cleaned almost 702 miles of roads in 2022.
Inmates worked more than 121,891 hours and ultimately saved taxpayers $1,239,631.47 (calculated at a conservative $10.00 per hour). In addition, the inmates themselves pay to participate in the program, funding the cost of the program.
The program is truly a great return on investment; the taxpayers benefit, society benefits from cleaner and more beautiful roads and parks; and hopefully, the men and women in the program will become better stewards in the community and feel proud that their hard work has made Polk County an even better place to live, work, and play.
Grady Judd, Sheriff