One local sheriff’s department is putting inmates to work outside of the jail to save taxpayers money and provide some heating help.
The side of 11-W in Rogersville has been full of leaves, rakes and inmates, like William Hale. He has spent the past month working on clearing trees and debris as part of the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Department work program. “I’ve enjoyed every moment of it,” Hale said. “It helps me stay busy and it makes my time seem shorter.”
The roadside project started at the end of the summer with dozens of inmates working under officer supervision. "It gives us lots of fresh air and sunshine, which is a lot different from lying around in our cells," Hale said.
Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said the work program has saved tax payers about $15,000 by having the inmates do the landscaping. “They come out, cut up the wood and we get some free labor out of them,” he explained.
That wood also serves a special service by providing heating assistance for those less fortunate in the county. "We give it to the needy and the elderly that can’t otherwise afford it,” said Lawson.
Lawson explained for the inmates, the project isn’t just a way to get outside of the jail walls; it’s also a way for them to give back to society. "They get self gratification that they're out here making a difference and you can see the difference they're making,” said the Sheriff.
Anyone interested in getting a delivery of wood should contact Of One Accord Ministries in Rogersville at 423-921-8044.