Inmates clean debris as part of state-county work center

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – It’s seen as a win-win opportunity. Inmates were busy picking up debris in Tupelo from last week’s storms as part of a state-county work center.

This is a way to help with storm recovery and allow inmates to gain community service in a positive environment. In Lee County, inmates worked steadily to clear debris left from Cooper Tire.

The state-county work center program is for inmates convicted of non-violent crimes.

Sheriff Jim Johnson believes the program is good preparation for life after prison.

“I always tell people these are not bad people that are in here they just made bad decisions. We’ve got to give them an opportunity to make better decisions and help them and this is one way to do it. They want to do this they volunteer to get out and work. They volunteer for the program and it is something we are very appreciative of,” said Johnson.

For some, it’s the first-time positive reinforcement has ever been experienced.

“You’ll have a lot of them that are surrounded by positive things like this that have not had this even as old as they are living right here in Mississippi in the Bible Belt. You think that everyone knows but that is not the case. Some terrible situations that people are brought up in and this is constructive and positive,” said Johnson.

The program offers other opportunities to gain valuable skills.

“These inmates mostly pick up trash on the roads. They change the oil in buses for the county schools. We set up a lot of projects like a celebration village. We do all of that for them. So, they are always giving back and passing their time to good things. These inmates will be returned back into society within five years a lot of them are learning a skill or developing a skill that will help them when they get back out,” said Johnson.

There is still a lot of ground to cover but the sheriff’s office’s and the inmates’ efforts are making the county cleaner one piece of debris at a time.

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