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Garland County reconsidering inmate labor practices

May 30, 2019

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) — The use of inmate labor at the Garland County Detention Center is being questioned by county officials.

County officials said a contract with Trinity Services Group may need to be amended to explicitly authorize the correctional services provider’s use of state inmates as support staff, the Sentinel-Record reported.

Officials added the rules outlining work-release programs for Arkansas inmates may have been violated.

“State law provides that assigned inmates are allowed to work jobs which directly benefit the jail facility and to perform tasks which benefit governmental entities or nonprofit organizations within the county,” said Solomon Graves, public information officer at the Arkansas Department of Correction. “The ADC is continuing to gather information about the contract between Garland County and Trinity in order to ensure the proper assignment of ADC inmates.”

The inmates are part of a program that assigns inmates to work in county jails and at local law enforcement agencies. The inmates aren’t allowed to work in capacities for private benefit or to replace government employees.

Trinity’s contract in part holds the company responsible for hiring workers to clean food service equipment, and food preparation and storage areas. Under the agreement, 20 of the 22 women assigned to the county work in the jail’s kitchen. Another inmate works at a seamstress at the jail, while another works at the sheriff’s office.

John Howard, attorney for Garland County, said the Trinity Services contract raises concerns and is currently being reviewed.

“There are ways you can look at the contract, and it can be completely within the bounds of it. And the other way you look at it, and it’s not in the bounds of what’s required,” he said. “Without knowing specifically what the inmates are doing, I’m unable to give an opinion whether we are in violation of the terms of the contract or not.”

The five-year contract expires at the end of the year.

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Information from: The Sentinel-Record, http://www.hotsr.com

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