The Greene County Detention Center’s Work Release program is off to a great start, according to the person who implemented it.

“It’s finally on the ground,” said Brent Cox in his monthly update of jail operations at the recent meeting of the Greene County Quorum Court, “and we’re very proud of it.”

Cox said two inmates in the program have already been hired, one by Greenbrier (formerly American Railcar Industries) and the other by the Greene County Road Department. “[The program] allows us to pick inmates who are going to get out anyway in four to six months,” he said, “and lets them be productive.”

Cox added the way the program is structured, the participating inmates use 25 percent of what they make from their jobs to pay off fines, costs and fees. Those participating also pay $25 a day for their housing at the jail. “You know that in so many cases,” he said, “once an inmate gets out of jail, they don’t pay their fines. But this way, they do.”

The program is set up to house up to 40 eligible inmates in the old jail. Cox laid out the selection criteria for participation in the work release program. Individuals must already be sentenced, on either misdemeanor or felony charges, either by the state of Arkansas or Greene County.

The history of the given inmate also is a consideration. Any type of escape charge, any fleeing charge in the past three years, any type of violent crimes, or any sex offender whatsoever – all are eliminated from eligibility for the program.

As of Nov. 16, the jail housed 335 inmates. Therefore, with a maximum capacity of only 40 inmates, the jail could afford to be extremely choosy in who it selects for work release participation.

Participants receive drug tests on at least a weekly basis; failure means removal from the program.

The work release program uses ankle bracelets to monitor the locations of work release inmates.

If the device is tampered with or removed, authorities will be alerted – Cox said the alert would come to jail officials’ cellular telephones – and the inmate will be arrested. Cost of the ankle bracelets is borne by the inmates, as part of their $25 a day fee.

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