WISE COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Commonwealth Attorney for Wise County and the City of Norton Chuck Slemp announced that an alternative sentencing program in the county has saved local taxpayers quite a few dollars.
According to a release from the Commonwealth Attorney’s office, Wise Works is a program for low-risk, non-violent offenders that offers supervised community service instead of jail time.
“We are thrilled to report that the Wise Works Program has saved local taxpayers over one million dollars since it was launched,” Slemp said in the release.
The savings come from reducing the costs of incarcerating offenders and spending less on labor costs for local communities and non-profits.
The program was created by the Wise County Board of Supervisors in 2017 at Slemp’s request.
The program allows qualifying defendants to serve all or part of their sentence by completing a set number of days at a designated job site ordered by the court.
While participating in Wise Works, program directors supervise and work closely with other officials and probation officers. Drug tests are also administered randomly, and any failure to adhere to the program’s rules results in jail time by a probation violation charge.
55 participants are currently involved in the program rather than serving time in the regional jail in Duffield.
Wise Works also offers substance abuse counseling and treatment, job skills training, GED courses and other educational opportunities.
The release says some of the current job sites include the Wise County Animal Shelter, Big Stone Parks and Recreation, the Wise County Housing Authority, the Salvation Army, the Wise County School System, and the Towns of Appalachia, Big Stone Gap, Pound and St. Paul.