Clark County Detention Center looks to enhance inmates’ future through work program

Published 10:04 am Tuesday, June 21, 2022

By Matt Cizek

The Clark County Detention Center has an eye on helping its inmates get back on the right track by putting them to work on different projects around the area.

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The inmate work program first began in 2015 and has continue its development in coordination with the U.S. Marshall’s office.

“The benefit to our community is the free labor provided by the inmates,” said Clark County Jailer Frank Doyle. “Pre-pandemic, we calculated the monetary benefit to the community to be $545,000 using a $9.00 hourly rate.”

The program employs inmate personnel at a variety of county and city festivals, including the Beer Cheese Festival, the Clark County Fair, Fourth of July celebration, the Pioneer Festival and Labor Day festivities.

The inmates also help with projects related to county roads such as litter pickup and collecting tire treads.

They also assist with lawn care, landscaping, snow removal services and more at the Clark County Courthouse, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and the county employee parking lot.

Inmates for the program are chosen based on if they meet specific criteria and soon the program might not to be limited to just local inmates.

“We’re in the process right now of entering an agreement that we’re going to be housing federal inmates at our facility,” said Doyle. “I feel this is going to be a wonderful benefit to Clark County taxpayers with the federal inmates, it’s going to be more money per inmate and if they go to the hospital the federal government takes care of their medical expenses, so it’s a win-win [situation].”

In addition to physical labor, a number of programs are offered by the detention center with hopes of reducing recidivism and giving inmates a better opportunity upon release such as GED programs, Achieving Recovery Together’s First Day Forward program, and a soon-to-be-offered online U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety certification training geared toward teaching employable skills.

“They’ll get a certification card so they can go to an employer and say, ‘I’ve been through this course’,” said Ernie Sammons, a certified public accountant. “The thing that probably impressed us the most is personal skills [and] interview skills.”

Enhancing the program comes at the right time as the corrections system grapples with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, most of which is financial due to the early releases of state inmates.

“While our costs of operations typically remain consistent, the loss of revenue was a setback,” Doyle said.

Nevertheless, enhancing the program for the goods of the community and inmates is still in mind.

“We never quit looking for different methods to increase the revenue, thereby reducing the taxpayer’s contribution,” Doyle said.