Small SC counties count on state inmates to help

CHESTER, S.C. (AP) - Supervisor Carlisle Roddey in Chester County says the grass might go uncut and county vehicles would no longer be repaired for just the cost of parts if he couldn't rely on state inmates for labor.

Roddey says he'd have to hire about 20 full-time employees to perform the jobs done by the 28 prisoners on loan from the South Carolina Department of Corrections. He figures that would blow a nearly $1 million hole in his rural county's $14 million budget.

The inmate work program has been criticized recently as sheriffs in Saluda and Abbeville counties quit and pleaded guilty to misdemeanors for using prisoners to do work on their own land.

But Corrections Department officials say the program is closely monitored and supervisors who use inmates go through yearly training.

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