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Inmate labor saves money, Garrett County sheriff reports

For the Cumberland Times-News Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — Garrett County Sheriff Rob Corley has reported more than $40,000 in savings to the county this year through the new Inmate Work Program that began in January.

Corley told the county commissioners at last week’s public meeting that inmates have provided 5,395 hours of labor valued at $7.50 an hour for a savings of $40,462 to the county, according to a county news release. “This is huge,” Corley said.

Commission chairman James Raley thanked Corley for putting the program together. The inmates have provided maintenance services in county communities and are assigned to 28 sites from garbage collection to water treatment facilities.

Corley said the program has provided unskilled labor without cost to 30 county properties, municipalities and nonprofit agencies. His office used St. Mary’s County Detention Center as a blueprint for Garrett County’s plan. The inmates perform their duties under supervision of one full-time sheriff’s office employee.

“There’s no question it’s a good program,” said Mountain Lake Park Mayor Leo Martin, whose town was one of the first municipalities to use the free labor. “Inmates have done a lit bit of everything, from mowing and trimming grass to building walls. The inmates we’ve had working have good attitudes with good work ethics. They like getting outdoors and we haven’t had any problems with anyone. We used to provide inmates lunch, but now the sheriff’s office even packs their lunch.”

Corley said a Mountain Lake Park employee picks up an inmate five days a week to work with town employees and that Grantsville recently picked up inmates for storm cleanup.

The inmates also have mowed and cleared debris from 1.7 miles of trails at Adventure Sports Center International and have worked at the Oakland Cemetery, Youth Little League fields at Broadford Park and the Garrett County Visitors Center in McHenry, according to the release.

“If an inmate signs up for the program and does a good job, they can earn up to five days a month off their sentence,” said Corley. The program does not include sex offenders or violent criminals and inmates have to be sentenced for a maximum of 18 months, according to Corley. The detention center currently houses 73 inmates. County purchases have included three mowers and gasoline. “Next year, I think we’ll be able to take care of all county mowing contracts, and in the winter, do snow removal,” Corley said.

Agencies interested in participating in the program may call 301-334-1917.

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