Work Release Program Saves Taxpayers Millions

Last week they were filling sandbags in preparation for tropical weather, and every day they're working along the highway, or in a park.

CAPT Tommy Mills with the Leon County Sheriff's Office says, "The sheriff had an idea when he took office that inmates not just sit around and watch TV all day, but have and opportunity to take part in the community."

And they do so, seven days a week, with 11 to 12 crews out everyday. CAPT Mills says last year, work crews with the Leon County Jail put in close to 200,000 hours of free labor and estimates the savings to taxpayers at around $2 million.

David Harper, a resident, says, "I think it's pertinent that they be outside, getting that kind of exercise, something that's productive to the community."

Warren Cave, also a resident, adds, "I think it's good that they can let the guys get out and be supervised and do something positive in the community, because the majority are there for negativity and doing wrong things."

Those in the work release program are classified as "non-violent" offenders, so they go home during the night, and can maintain any regular job they may have, and not having them behind bars helps control jail over-crowding.

CAPT Mills says, "We have approximately 40-45 coming in everyday that would actually end up going to the jail, and that would impact the county there. Not only does it impact the county, but food, clothing, everything else it takes to house an inmate."

The crews work with several non-profit organizations, Leon County Public Works and the Leon County School Board. Last year, Leon County Jail work crews put in close to 12,000 hours at Leon County schools alone.