McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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March 27, 2011

Pittsburg County: A program inmates can dig

McALESTER — From breaking the law to breaking the ground, several county offenders will make the transition while they serve time and cut costs for taxpayers. Feeding offenders without costing the county taxpayers is the goal of Pittsburg County Sheriff Kerns’ new program, Offenders Feeding Offenders.

Digging began Tuesday on 6.5 acres of vacant county-owned land, and county offenders began sowing their own garden.

County commissioners granted Kerns permission to use the land Monday.

This venture will be the first of its kind for the new Pittsburg County Jail.

Seeking to find ways to ease

overcrowding has been an ongoing issue at the county jail.  

“Our beds are full, but having hand-picked trustees actually work off their fines helps keep the beds available for more offenders. To have someone in jail because of an unpaid $350 fine for six months costs the taxpayers more money than what the fine is worth, if you consider feeding, clothing and housing,” Kerns said.

With this program, the offender can earn good time: two days served for every one day worked.  

For more on this story, see Sunday’s print edition of the McAlester News-Capital. For subscription information call 918-423-1700.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.

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