Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct ‘work release program’ to ‘work detail program.’
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Construction on the Washington County Election Commission’s new building is wrapping up more quickly than expected.
Work on the former Princeton Arts Center has come from many departments in the county, including the highway department and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
Inmates with the sheriff’s department’s work detail program have been doing interior work on the building, according to Administrator of Elections, Dana Jones.
Commissioner Richard Tucker is a contractor and has been following the progress of this project. He said he is surprised by the work the inmates have done.
“We need workers, and if they’ve done their time and learned from what they’ve done, then yes ma’am, I would hire them in a heartbeat,” said Tucker.
A situation like this is exactly what the Washington County Sheriff’s Office hopes for with its work detail program. Sheriff Keith Sexton sees the program as a healing process.
“Get them out, get them a job so that when they leave here, maybe they’ll have a future,” said Sexton. “They have a place to go to work, maybe even have some money in their pocket, and at the same time, hopefully have healed a lot of the addiction and mental issues that they might have.”
Washington County inmates with the work detail program have worked on other projects around the county, including a location that will soon be called Lincoln Park.
Jonesborough Operations Manager, Craig Ford, said inmate workers have helped them with projects the town would normally not have the funds to complete.
“With a town the size that Jonesborough is, we’ve accomplished so many things that otherwise we probably wouldn’t be able to do, had we had to go into the private sector for contractors and that kind of thing,” said Ford.
The last few cosmetic touches are being made to the Washington County Election Commission’s new building. They say they hope to move into the new spot in either April or May.
Inmates who work with the work detail program receive time back; Sheriff Sexton said for every day they work, a day is taken off their sentence.