Inmate crews are off storm debris cleanup for now in Richmond County

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News12 at 6 o'clock/ Monday, March, 3 2014

Commission seal

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Weeks after the storm, piles of debris still cover yards across the area. Nearly 40 thousand cubic yards of debris are piling up at the Augusta fairgrounds.

More than 70 crews are helping with the cleanup but some resources are still going untapped. "If the city was to go out and hire five individuals with fringe benefits, salary and so forth, you can't make a comparison of what the inmates do," said Warden Evan Joseph.

The men dressed in white were out in crews of five when a blanket of white covered everything. Inmates at the Richmond County Corrections Institute assisted several city departments during and after the storm.

"We did everything from picking up debris, to cutting, and hauling. We've been in the forefront since the beginning," said Joseph.

Inmate crews have been used for years. Their crews were responsible for blowing leaves, doing yard work and whatever else is needed. We're told the county doesn't pay them but the county is paying out thousands to contractors. The inmates are no longer needed for storm cleanup.

"I think once the contractors came aboard then our directive was to basically fall back and let the contractors handle it," said Joseph.

"These are our contractors who are skilled in this area and of course our guys are going to continue working. Right now, they're gearing up towards clean up," said Commissioner Corey Johnson.

City engineers tell us the reason why inmates are not being used is because, 'The scale of this project far exceeds what an inmate crew can do.'

"Again these are people that are highly trained and skilled , we will have plenty of work for our inmates," said Commissioner Corey Johnson.

It looks like those doing time will get a pass for now.

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