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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County Jail is getting a makeover, and it’s coming on the cheap. The sheriff is using inmate volunteers to save tax payers money.

For the past couple of weeks, about 20 inmates helped repaint jail cells. Sheriff Ed McMahon said the workers are doing a great job.

He also said the county should expect more original solutions from the his office to cut its budget.

“I challenged my staff just to be innovative, just to look outside of the box at ways that we could save money in the budget, and they came back with the idea that we had to have the jail painted, and it looks like we’ll be able to save about $100,000 by having the inmates do it,” McMahon said.

McMahon said he knew the new paint would make the jail look better, but he is surprised about the way the project has changed the attitudes of the inmates as well.

Comment on this Story

  • Guestleo

    There is a difference between prison labor and jail labor when it comes to the federal law.

    Should one of these inmates slip off of a ladder or something they should be insured, if they arent insured then the taxpayers will have to pay the inmate to sit on his couch and drink beer all day for the rest of his life.

    And you can’t have someone not convicted of a crime working for you for free. The idea that you have them volunteering is a bit unethical. What else might they volunteer for? Hazardous waste removal.

    Let’s remember folks these inmates have not been convicted of any crime, they have been charged with a crime and cant afford bail.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    One of the loudest complaints from anyone incarcerated is the never-ending BOREDOM. There is nothing to do.

    So of course they volunteer. If they had cable, widescreen TVs, and Playstations, we’d never see a volunteer crew picking up trash on the side of the road, either.

    You sound more like a big fan of unions. Whenever big union states try to cut costs by making inmates or welfare recipients work, the unions stop it because it cuts into padded overtime and union dues….or maybe you have a financial connection to a local painter?

  • Guest4hire

    I don’t know the answers to your questions, but I’m guessing this is similar to the program that allows inmates to clean up litter on the side of the highway. Also got the impression no inmates were forced to paint.

  • Guestleo

    Are the inmates under the County Workman’s Comp and what does the Dept of Labor have to say about unpaid labor?

  • Guest

    Does it really matter if they are or arent they are inmates they are in jail for a reason, they should be thankful that they get to do something other than sit in a jail cell all day, and who cares about the labor board hence the word “volunteers” they dont have to do it, and iam pretty sure its not a 24 hour job

  • Guestrolledover

    Local politicians claim the media is only reporting on the negative. Well here is a story on something positive. Not only is it saving tax payers money, it’s helping the inmates.

  • Guest

    just be careful sheriff , don’t let it happen to you like it happened to ron hewett . cover your bases

  • Guest461

    …just like Sheriff Arpaio. We can also ease prison crowding by putting them in tents too. Maricopa County, AZ., we NEED jails JUST LIKE THAT!!!


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