CLINTON—Some qualified low-risk inmates will be able to keep their jobs even after sentencing now that the Anderson County jail has been declared a workhouse, officials said Monday.
When a judge agrees, the inmates could continue their current employment, stay at the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton when they’re not at work, and pay $15 to $17.50 per day for their jail time.
Female inmates judged to be low-risk offenders might be able to spend a few hours at home with their families and children, Anderson County Law Director Jay Yeager said.
The Anderson County Commission unanimously declared the jail a workhouse after a brief discussion during a Monday night meeting. Yeager said the designation has been allowed for some time under Tennessee law, but Anderson County is only able to use it now because the jail is being expanded, giving deputies more room to house and segregate inmates.
“We finally have the space,” Yeager said. The segregation is important because it will, among other things, help jailers control potential contraband.
Officials said inmates will receive credit for two days in jail for every day they work, and some, including those with electrical and construction skills, could be used to work on county roads and at convenience centers and parks, among other things.
Some inmates will not be eligible for the first-time Anderson County program.
“Violent criminals will stay in jail,” Yeager said. “This is not for your high-risk people.”
He said it could be used for inmates who have, for example, committed petty theft, were convicted of possessing a small amount of drugs, or were imprisoned for child support violations.
County officials said the program will give judges flexibility during sentencing, allow prisoners to repay their debts to society, and reduce the county’s operational costs.
Yeager said allowing convicts to keep their employment status is one of the three major factors that reduce recidivism.
A Board of Workhouse Commissioners will set policies and procedures for the program. The county mayor will serve as the ex officio chair, and there will also be four other members, possibly other county officials. The sheriff will serve as the workhouse supervisor.