- Associated Press - Saturday, June 18, 2016

AIKEN, S.C. (AP) - The city of Aiken is warning it will have to replace 10 inmates paid $15 a day to pick up trash and do landscaping with 20 temporary workers who get $10 an hour after South Carolina officials decided to close a nearby prison.

The decision by the state Corrections Department to close Lower Savannah Pre-Release Center and move its inmates and workers to Trenton Correctional Institution about 17 miles away is hurting other governments in the area too.

Aiken County leaders have said it may cost more than $1 million to replace to 20 inmates that clean, do vehicle maintenance and help with animal control with regular paid workers. North Augusta officials said they may have to spend around $200,000 to replace the roughly 15 state prisoners who work mostly in a recycling facility.

“We figured the labor ratio factored two inmates to one full-time temporary employee. We don’t get a full eight hours of work out of our inmates due to logistics in picking them up, where they can go, what they are able to do and getting them back to the facility after the work day is done,” Aiken Public Services Director Tim Coakley told County Council this week, according to the Aiken Standard (https://bit.ly/1tBSgru ).

State government is giving local officials time to figure out a plan. Prison officials are letting Trenton Correctional Institution inmates work until the beginning of August.



“It’s about 15 minutes longer to pick up the inmates, but it’s saving us money, so we don’t mind the drive,” Coakley said.

The local governments are also deciding whether to hire replacements for inmate labor on a permanent basis or as temporarily employees.

Coakley said he is leaning toward temporary workers for now.

“We’re able to give somebody a job right away,” Coakley said. “It may not be on a permanent basis for now, but it’s a paycheck for somebody who wasn’t previously drawing a paycheck.”

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Information from: Aiken Standard, https://www.aikenstandard.com

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