Friday, September 25, 2009


So, I'm checking out some recent articles pertaining to innovative measures to offset the never-ending cost to taxpayers, and I see this one about low risk inmates at the Pike County Jail in Pennsylvania. They pay $10 a night for room and board.

Sounds amazing doesn't it?

Those who cannot pay, may work off their bills with custodial or other tasks that can be done with a minimum of supervision. So let's think about this. Is there anything different in New York that would prohibit this program? If not, I'd like to start the research.

The article points out that motivating and supervising people who have wound up in jail will not be easy most of the time. But giving the inmates the chance to get out of the compound and work off their new housing fee might be the key to a well behaved crew.

One of the hopes embodied in our system of incarceration is that people will learn the value of work and start to understand what they need to do so they can avoid a return trip. Hell, I'm advocating for a tougher workfare system. One where you perform public service before getting a check. So of course I'd like to see the inmates working for the privilege of living off our hard won money.

Can this be done in New York State and would YOU want inmates working off the tax burden they afflict on us?


Jeremiah said...

I am with you 100%. Unfortunately NY keeps pushing these college programs while eliminating the community work crews.

What kind of job can a convicted felon get which requires a college degree.

I say get them their HS diploma or GED and then put them to work, especially if they can learn a usable trade in the process.

Inmates need to learn a work ethic. Not how to hang out and play all day while all of their expenses are covered 100%. Or else when they are released they will continue find ways to live off of society.

Anonymous said...

Mike, I'm with you as well.
The incarceration system is a business unto it's own and it's growing. I say lets get some of those tax dollars back.

Your point about making them work making them think twice about committing a second or more crime needs study, but while they're in there, lets get something out of them.

Anonymous said...

Point well made and definitely worth the effort (especially with the economy) for our elected officials to pursue.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a terrible idea. The inmates belong in jail not out on the street during incarceration. Lets put lawabiding citizens to work in this economy, not criminals that have broken the law!

Anonymous said...

This may work well in a somewhat confined setting. As you can see in the picture the officer is watching a group of inmates picking up papers in a park.

How would this work in Kingston with leaf pick up? 6 to 8 inmates walking down the street throwing bagged leaves into a truck, if they had one, doesn't seem to efficient. The truck would fill up in minutes and have to go dump while the inmates sat around for 15 to 20 minutes waiting for the truck to return.

The inmates can only be used if there are no lay offs. Mayor Amorello laid off employees in the late eighties or early nineties and replaced them with not with inmates but with another agency. The Union grieved and won back the jobs of those laid off and back pay for them also.

So in the long run the City lost money after having to pay back wages lost to the workers illegally laid off and for there legal expense and from what I hear they are through the roof with this administration.

Anonymous said...

Mike, having inmates work off there debt to society is a good idea.

However, with crime on the rise in Kingston and the mayor wanting to lay off police, Wouldn't it be wiser to keep the inmates in jail so the police can concentrate on crime.

Mike Madsen said...

hey 5:49, I don't think the article in the Record mentioned leaf collection in Kingston. Thanks for trying to pull that into the post.

The theme of the article is that people in jail are costing us our tax dollars. No different than those who abuse other government systems. Our county taxes are affected.

If you are serving 3 to 6 months for "non-payment of child support" or shoplifting, I say you are low-risk enough to be cleaning the unused tracks behind the Rondout Savings Bank on Broadway. No sense in just sitting there wasting time.

Down in PA where the article is sourced, The inmates are doing internal work at the jail as well as "grounds keeping" and minor street cleaning.

Anonymous said...

Mike, another group that could be working is the potheads who got caught with small amounts of marijuana. Not dealers! Users. There are way too many jail cells occupied by pot smokers. Cells that could hold much more violent criminals.

Anonymous said...


Work programs for non-violent offenders (absolutely no record of violence) seem viable - but that
"$10 a night for room and board" doesn't come anywhere near the cost of housing inmates --- and I believe any monies earned (to be fair and offset resentments that might encourage recidivism...) should be paid at minimum wage - with the monthly amount earned to be divided up between 1) child support owed [first priority, if applicable); "room and board" (yes, by all means, offset the tax burden!); and 3) a savings account of some sort that would (along with job skills training) help the inmate - when released - secure housing, a job, etc.

I also believe [here I go again, eh?] that those that are in jail for having committed violent crimes should be able to earn money - but IN HOUSE - to pay child support (as applicable), room and board (a percentage) and
pay restitution to their victims.

This "in house" work could be along the lines of mass-producing pamphlets and other materials on non-violent communication, addiction prevention and intervention (addiction often plays a part in violent crimes), violence prevention and other awareness and educational materials[would this not be a unique twist, "possibly" informing, educating and even "reprogramming" (a word I detest, but it has its place) some of these folks (they probably weren't "born bad") along the way?

Just please... (an open plea to all of the powers that be...) keep anyone with a history of violent crimes (against property, animals or persons) off (for any reason) our streets, our lawns, our buses, our properties...

And give all of the above (minimum wage, child support issues, tax-burden relief, education / incentive / savings (for non-violent offenders) and victim restitution (as it applies) some thought as well.


Anonymous said...

Great idea but you can t when all we pay for is system feeders.
Way too many liberals worrying about what they are getting for their lacluster behavior and refusal to work.
Your grandparents didnt come here and sit on thier ass while to gov sent them a check, they made do with what they had and worked for what they wanted!
I know cause mine grandparents did the same.
Today we promote sitting home and let uncle sam pay the bills, here in UC its our largest expense.
How about this idea, if you are on social services, you cannot have another kid, or we will stop paying!
Do you think that would get people to be responsible?
I dont know about you, but as a taxpayer I wish I could get a break around here ,instead of giving more to social service and prisoners..
WTF, Mike you need to make a change if elected and not become another rubber stamp!

Anonymous said...


Paid minimum wage? You must be joking. Part of the premise of this is to offset part of the cost of housing inmates and balance budgets. You want to make it more expensive for taxpayers and have the taxpayers fund work for inmates to take care of their child support obligations.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, I am for limiting the number of children that people on DSS are allowed to have - as well as the number of pets - which should be (in my opinion, regarding pets) zero...

Not because I did it "right" [We often learn by our mistakes... (Love Ya Kids! You know what I'm saying!)]

But because I learned (personally and via observation) that ones priorities have to be in order - that parents really need (for the sake of their children) to be at least minimally healthy and functional - and that when this is not the case you too often end up [unintentionally or intentionally] with "hurt people" - generation after generation - hurting people...

Children require a lot, besides basic needs - and far too many children (my opinion) are going [the system is full of double-binds when it comes to the "needy"] without the security, attention, guidance, boundaries and discipline they need.


Anonymous said...

The City of Kingston has been paying the county around $5,000 a year+ for the use of supervised low risk imates doing all kinds of work through out the City and other parts of the County. Mostly painting and cleaning the area around the railroad tracks on Downs st.etc. Extending that work to picking up leaves is a good idea and would not take away from the good work done by the DPW workers. It frees up time for more serious needs. I'm surprised you were not aware of this Mike.

Anonymous said...

You sound like Mr. Conservative, Mr. Progressive, and could it be that because you are running for a seat on a body that has more conservatives than the measly city of Kingston that this is a deliberate change in tone? Come on...."hard won money?" According to what percentage of the populace? People who sit around and invest for a living feel their money is "hard won." Puhhleeze.
The real progressives know that this county jail here in podunk county, USA is a growing enterprise designed to feed upon itself and aside from the absolute debacle over its costs the real progressives also know that part of the economy is planned for a growing jail populace and all that has nothing to do with the morality involved in recidivism and so forth.
Get a life. Better yet, get on the county legislature!!

Anonymous said...

Some of the minimum wage would be going right back into the system to pay the room and board...

Another portion of the minimum wage would be (where applicable) going towards paying child support (which could make the difference as to whether the custodial parent has to depend on social services (taking from the system) or not...

And has the added benefit - for the inmate - in that this child support amount will not keep adding up (meaning they could be re-arrested for same right after they get out...) whilst they are incarcerated...

Another portion of this minimum wage would be to offset the cost of educational programs, job training, apprenticeships, etc. - which in many cases is happening (via your tax dollars - through non profits - etc.) in many instances anyway...

I'm no expert, to be sure - and I could be making a fool of myself here - but this idea (or group of ideas) seems viable - or at least worth some thought - to me.


Anonymous said...

All for it as long as they do my neighbors job and not mine.....that's what I hear you all saying.

Would you agree to this if it was your function they would be performing?

Just asking.