Commissioners have renewed a program allowing Missouri Department of Corrections inmates to work for Callaway County.
"If done properly, this is a good program," Presiding Commissioner Gary Jungermann said. "These guys have gotten in trouble for a multitude of reasons, but they're nonviolent. They just made some bad choices."
The program gives two nonviolent offenders the chance to do odd jobs for the county from 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Most frequently, the inmates do road and bridge work, such as snow removal and trash pick-up.
"They cannot drive licensed motor vehicles, and they must be supervised," Jungermann said.
The county has participated in this program for several years, but in years past has only had the inmates from autumn to spring. Under the renewed contract signed Monday, the county will have two inmates year-round.
Commissioner Randy Kleindienst also voiced support for the program.
"It's good that they get out and get re-acclimated to the job force," he said.
For example, one inmate currently working in the program is a skilled mechanic and welder, Jungermann said. He's worked on some of the city's road equipment. A previous worker was a union painter and painted offices for the county.
"Some of these guys, they have a trade or profession they're going to go back into," Jungermann said. "What we use them for is not so much to replace somebody but for stuff that wouldn't normally get done. We'll take them out to bridges and cut brush around a bridge when our guys were busy with roads."
He compared work-release to community service, though inmates are paid a small amount for their labor. The county gives $7.50 per day per inmate to the DOC, which deposits the money in the inmate's commissary fund.
"I know the guys in the DOC really enjoy it because they get outside and get to work and maintain their skills," Jungermann said.