Inmate mowing

CRITTENDEN COUNTY, KY — Many of you sent us your concerns about a pool party for local jail inmates. The Crittenden County jailer took several inmates to the Marion Country Club for a private pool party last week, using county vehicles to get them there. But the jailer, Robbie Kirk, says costs for the event and transportation there were not paid for by taxpayers.

The jail lets well-behaved inmates who are close to release work in the community. One example is letting them mow county owned property. 

"They do good things every day that the community doesn't see, and this is just another thing we were able to offer," said Critten County Jail officer, Lt. Athena Hayes. 

She says the jail rewards them for their hard work, and commissary money is used so taxpayers don't foot the bill. 

"Taking them out to a swimming pool for a private reward program for them is not out of the realm of what the jailer will do for our inmates here," said Hayes. "He cares about seeing them go back out into the community and do well." 

One of the sites the reduced custody inmates work is the Victory Gardens in Marion, Kentucky. Jail employees say it's a great way for the inmates to transition back into normal life. Paul Shoff is one of the inmates that works the gardens. He says the programs they're offered and the work they're allowed to do sets them up well for release. 

"It's amazing. It's a better way of life, and I couldn't imagine anything else," said Shoff. "I got tools I need to stay home and take care of my family. I got some on-job training, some things I've never done before. I know I can go on and make a good living." 

Shoff plans to take the skills he is learning with him when he gets out and help with his mom's garden.

Hayes says 16% of the jail's inmates stay out once they're released. She says that's four times the state average.