School system to use inmates’ help

Published 9:13 pm Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Decatur County Commissioners gave its approval Tuesday for the public school system to make use of county prison inmates for a variety of maintenance tasks.

School Superintendent Ralph Jones requested the ongoing use of an inmate work crew and a guard to perform work at the county’s 10 public schools and two formerly occupied schools, which are still being maintained.

The inmates will be kept away from students and will be supervised by a guard and school system staff at all times, Jones explained to commissioners at their regular meeting on Tuesday morning. In addition, any inmates provided by the county prison will be trustees who are being kept in the state’s custody under minimum security, Jones said.

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Jones’ request on Tuesday calls for the Board of Education to pay the county government for the inmates’ labor, the usage of county equipment and the cost of transporting them between sites. Jones said he had already discussed the matter in depth with Prison Warden Elijah McCoy. Previously, the school system has relied on county inmates to clean up Centennial Field after sporting events, Jones said.

Under the new agreement, which is covered under an official resolution and contract drawn up by County Attorney Brown Moseley, the inmates will perform a variety of duties under the instruction of School Maintenance Director Jerry Mills, Jones said. Those duties could include mowing grass and other groundskeeping on school properties. There are also special tasks that need to be done at two former schools the system closed in 2009, Lillian E. Williams Elementary in Attapulgus and West Bainbridge Middle School off Spring Creek Road. Both were in use for many years and need a great deal of “straightening up” on the inside, Jones said.

Multiple Decatur County departments and the City of Bainbridge utilize inmate crews, which have been generally praised by local leaders as providing valuable labor at a low cost to taxpayers.

Great American Cleanup day planned

Also on Tuesday, County Commissioners approved a resolution stating their support for the Great American Cleanup day that Keep Decatur County Beautiful organization will sponsor on Saturday, March 20.

The local cleanup, which is part of a national cleanup event celebrating its 26th anniversary this year, will take place at Bainbridge’s Willis Park and the surrounding areas of the city, said Suzanne Brandt, executive director of Keep Decatur County Beautiful, which is funded by the county government.

“The idea is to start out at Willis Park and spread out our cleanup efforts to the streets surrounding downtown and see how far we can get within a few hours,” Brandt said.

To learn more about the event, search for Decatur County Great American Cleanup on Facebook, visit or call 246-3661.