Alcorn County sheriff sets priorities for inmate labor

county_alcorn_greenBy Lena Mitchell

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – The Alcorn County sheriff assured Corinth officials during Tuesday’s regular city board meeting that providing inmate labor to the city street department will be a priority.

The Corinth board invited Sheriff Charles Rinehart to attend the meeting to discuss the up-and-down number of inmates the city is assigned each day to assist with regular operations of the street department.

Street Commissioner Philip Verdung asked for additional staffing during his recent budget request to the board, listing the various jobs inmates have supported in regular department operations and showing how that assistance has fallen during the past year.

Rinehart told the board the availability of inmate labor is a problem statewide due to changes in sentencing guidelines which were implemented to reduce the number of inmates the state would have to pay to house.

Alcorn County’s work center, Rinehart said, can accommodate 70 inmates, and having 65 to 68 state inmates in the work center can accommodate the county’s needs.

Currently the inmate population at the work center is about 50 inmates, Rinehart said, but he agrees that city and county taxpayers should not be burdened with the expense of hiring additional employees to fill in the gaps.

Rinehart gave assurance that county supervisors and the city street department will be the first priorities, and 15 inmates will be sent to the city each day.

Some departments that regularly use inmates will be left shorthanded, but Rinehart said that’s the only way he can accommodate this change.

lena.mitchell@journalinc.com