FARMINGTON - Inmates at the Davis County Jail are getting a chance to make improvements to their temporary home.
“The inmates see the project, after it’s all finished, and it gives them a feeling of accomplishment,” said Sheriff Todd Richardson.
For the past 13 months, between 30 and 35 inmates have been making a variety of upgrades to the jail, which is now 21 years old.
“We started with the intent of being able to bring our facility up to speed, get it back up to where it needs to be,” the sheriff said.
The cost of using contract labor was “extremely high,” he said.
Chief Deputy Kevin Fielding and Maintenance Officer Mitch Matern worked out details of the project.
“They really enjoy doing these types of activities. It helps them in being able to have a skill they can leave with, possibly get a job,” Richardson said of the inmates.
Already, he said the recidivism rate among those who were involved and have been released is already lower.
Work is underway on the fourth of eight pods, putting the project at about half way done to complete all pods, the sheriff said.
Typically, 10 to 12 inmates are working on the project at a time.
“Conservatively, we are saving roughly $175,000,” he said.
Some work is also planned on the hallways and the infirmary, as well as some painting. It’ll be done a bit at a time, the sheriff said.
Inmates are selected based on several factors: the type of crime they committed to be placed in the jail; if they’d had any write ups while in jail or acted aggressively.
“The higher the number of points you get as an inmate, the higher the reasonableness of that inmate being chosen,” Richardson said.
“Mitch (Matern) is a great maintenance professional,” the sheriff said. “He is one of those guys that you tell him what you’re wanting to get done, and he sits down and figures a way to get it done.
“That’s really why we’ve been able to save so much money and how we operate here,” he said, adding, “We haven’t been able to throw anything at him that he hasn’t been able to deal with.”
“I think you’ve got to applaud the sheriff and the folks there on how they’ve been innovative to save some dollars and utilize the workforce that is there,” said County Commissioner Bret Millburn.
“They get the inmates to be involved in taking care of their own surroundings. That helps with the overall atmosphere. If someone has something invested in their surroundings, and are taking care of it, that helps everybody,” he said.
The work experience translated into a judge giving an inmate time for good behavior, the sheriff said.
“It really benefits them as long as they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” Richardson added.