Knox Jail Work Release Paying Off

Photo by David Stewart

Jailer Mary Hammons presents a check for $31,389.01 to Knox County Judge Executive J.M. Hammons.
Jailer Mary Hammons presents a check for $31,389.01 to Knox County Judge Executive J.M. Hammons.

By David Stewart

Every weekday morning since July 1, two Knox Detention deputies, (Thomas Levering and Ricardo Santoscruz) have shown up to work at 6:30 a.m. sharp. Their job is to pick up five inmates, load a van with lunch and report to the state garage for an assignment. Each crew is then directed by a state road supervisor, who stays with them as they complete the daily assigned task.

If the road had a state number assigned to it, chances are this group has either picked up garbage, mowed, weed-eated or mulched something along its ditches. The service they have provided has “neatened up” the county, and the best thing about it, that service has been free.

A contract was signed by Jailer Mary Hammons with the State Road Department. It includes all deputy pay, mileage and a $5 per diem per day per inmate (some of this pay will be used to offset the cost of packing a sack lunch).

Judges “Skip” Hammons and John Chappell are rewarding inmates’ hard work with time off their sentences. Currently, this is calculated as 2 for 1 (meaning that for every day they work, they get a day off their sentence).

The State has reimbursed the county mileage for the last four months, a total of 5,365 miles. Deputy hours worked were 1,296 for the same amount of time.

These two reimbursements combined with the inmate per diem brought a $31,389.01 check back to the Knox Fiscal Court. Hammons said, “It feels great to have created these two jobs and to have the state paying for them.”

J.M. Hall stated, “Anytime a job is created in the county, that is a good thing. When that county job is paid by state money, actually cleans up the county AND rehabilitates an inmate…I call that a winner.”

Hammons was quick to add, “I am happy that the inmates now have a way of giving back to the community. Also, I have learned over these past few years that we need to keep detainees “work ready” (as in some form of physical shape). When they are released back to the public, they need to jump into society with both feet and earn a living. The Work Release program is helping to prepare them for their future.”