County agrees to pay more for inmate labor

Grady County commissioners this week agreed to a $15,000 increase in a contract with Decatur County to provide inmate labor crews.
Local officials met with Decatur County Administrator Col (Ret.) Gary Breedlove and Decatur Correctional Institute Warden Elijah McCoy Tuesday night to discuss the proposed increase.
“We have been subsidizing Grady County unintentionally by paying the guards more than what we’ve been reimbursed,” Col. Breedlove said Tuesday night.
The Decatur County administrator said the actual cost to provide a guard for the inmate detail that works in Grady County four days a week actually exceeds the $55,000 called for in the revised contract.
Grady County has been contracting with the Decatur CI since 2007 and this is the first rate increase. Grady County provides the vehicle and fuel as well as the tools inmates use to work with. Decatur County provides the inmates and a guard to supervise them.
Warden McCoy explained that in order to provide Grady County with inmates four days a week for eight hours a day the guard has to work overtime and $8,357.44 is built into the contract to cover that cost.
The Decatur County administrator also noted that only experienced guards are sent to supervise work crews in Grady County. “We’re not going to send a rookie guard over here,” he said.
Vice Chairman LaFaye Copeland questioned why 12 inmates were not being sent to work as was called for in the agreement. According to the warden, the county’s vehicle is a 12 passenger van and only eight to nine inmates can be transported in the van along with the water coolers and tools.
“You would need a 15-passenger van and I could send you 12 inmates. I don’t have a problem sending you 12,” Warden McCoy said.
Commissioner Elwyn Childs asked Grady County Administrator Carlos Tobar how did Road Superintendent Stanley Elkins rate the performance of the inmate crews.
According to Tobar, for a little over a month the crews have been performing tasks other than picking up litter.
“We need them to do more than pick up trash and the warden has agreed to allow them to use hand tools. They have been very helpful for the last month or so in cleaning out ditches,” Tobar said.
Commissioner Charles Norton renewed his push to use inmate labor out of the local jail, but inmates here are not state prisoners and cannot be forced to work.
Norton also pointed out that there are not a lot of other options for the county to obtain inmate labor.
“Unless we could get some volunteers out of our jail here I don’t see where we have a whole lot of choice,” Norton said.
The board voted unanimously to authorize Chairman T.D. David to execute the contract with Decatur County that goes into effect July 1. County officials say the additional expense for the remainder of the year will be covered from the contingency fund and the $15,000 increase will be included in the county’s 2015 operating budget.

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