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Floyd County Prison 1 of 3 facilities to get pilot program training felons to work

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Floyd County Prison

The entrance to the Floyd County Prison.

A pilot program enacted this month will return felons to Floyd County, put them in a work release program and ultimately transform them into employed residents after their release, officials said.

The Floyd County Prison is one of three facilities chosen for the program by the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Re-entry. Intended to change how the state’s penal system handles inmates, the pilot program will put felons into classes and get them jobs about a year or two before their release, prison warden Jeff Chandler said.

“I’m not looking to give a hand-out,” Chandler said at the county’s Tuesday Public Safety Committee meeting. “I’m looking to give a hand-up.”

According to Chandler, the inmates in the program are from Floyd County and would return here regardless after their release. Program participants, however, will have employment and some money when they leave prison.

Inmates currently are sent to a transition center in South Georgia before their release. They typically don’t keep a job gained through work release after leaving prison, Chandler said.

“Or they get $25 and a bus ticket to get back home,” he added.

Chandler hopes the pilot program will change that.

Incarcerated Floyd County residents have a chance of returning to Northwest Georgia if selected for the program. Chandler said he has control over the selection progress. His office is screening 56 potential inmates for the program, and he intends to select nine of them.

Inmates in the pilot program will attend classes for changing behavior and substance abuse, if needed. Those who have a good work ethic in work details will transfer to the county’s work release program. There they can earn money and have employment when they leave prison, Chandler said.

“We’re already primed and ready,” he added, noting that no extra money is required to conduct the pilot program because a work release facility already exists here.

In other matters the committee:

  • Discussed the agreement between the county and Black Creek Integrated Systems Corp., which will install the Floyd County Jail controls project. County commissioners delayed approving the contract last week after County Manager Jamie McCord said he wanted more time to examine it. McCord said Tuesday he wanted assurance that a $100,000 contingency fund would go toward 17 touch sensors not included in the bid. He also wanted to ensure the county owned all the drawings and plans made for the project. The commission is scheduled to vote on the jail controls project at its Tuesday meeting. The project, which will upgrade the jail’s electronic door controls and security, is expected to take six months to complete.
  • Heard from Floyd County Police Chief Bill Shiflett about buying four new cameras for police cars. The commission has approved the sale of $19,000 worth of surplus weapons. Shiflett wants to use the proceeds for the new cameras. The cameras will replace ones bought from a now bankrupt company that can no longer provide upgrades, Shiflett said.
  • Heard from McCord about the intergovernmental agreement between the county, Rome and Cave Spring for the new digital emergency communications system. The agreement, which details the monthly cost each participating agency must pay per radio, is expected to reach a vote at the county’s Tuesday meeting.