The Clarke County Corrections Institution/Work Camp was implemented in the late 1920’s. Its primary mission at the time was to house both locally and state sentenced inmates that did not have capital sentences. These inmates were to assist Clarke County with its roads and bridges operations. This included the cutback of all right-of-ways, cleaning of all ditches, building and maintaining county dirt or paved roads and operating a county asphalt plant from 1950 to 1970. Additionally, these inmates worked a county farm which included farming and caring for live stock (cows, goats and hogs) plus harvesting the crops to feed both livestock and the inmates. The facility housed and clothed all of the inmates, supplemented the labor for upkeep of county operations including the courthouse and landfill, as well as any other duties presented by the Commissioner of Roads and Revenue (later known as the County Commissioners). Through the years, ninety percent of all inmates worked for the County Public Works Department, under the leadership of a Road Superintendent. As part of early operations, the Warden and officers lived on the site and housing was provided by Clarke County, but this practice ended in the early 1970’s.
The unification of city and county government on January 14, 1991 yielded a new Department of Corrections, which continued to include an inmate labor work force that now provides unified services to both the city and county as one government. Instead of inmates focusing on farm operations, the work force changed directions to supplement all requested work units and departments where inmate labor could be used including: Police Services, Central Services (Landscape Management, Facilities Management, Animal Control & Print Shop), Leisure Services, Airport, Transportation and Public Works (Fleet Management, Traffic Engineering, Streets and Drainage) and Solid Waste (Landfill). In all, over two dozen inmate detail crews supplement work all over the Government including temporary projects such as assistance with transporting the voting machines during election years, clearing the roadways in inclement weather, and assisting the Police Department with putting up barricades and signs for all University of Georgia home games. Year-round tasks encompass the community including park maintenance and clean up as well as landscaping of all government properties. Approximately 80% of the inmates are assigned to outside work details and 20% are assigned to inside details to support the daily operations of Corrections. Population is adjusted daily based on inmate transfers and releases.
Under the Department of Corrections is the Food Service Division/Operations. This consists of a stand-alone food service preparation center built under Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funding in 2004. The Center is operated with inmates under the supervision of Correctional Officers and a Correctional Food Service Coordinator. Meals are prepared from scratch to feed inmates housed at the Clarke County Jail and Corrections Institution. Approximately 1,850 meals are produced daily at an economical cost. This Center was designed to accommodate additional needs from the jail population, corrections institution expansion and any other future housing units that would require inmate meals.
The SPLOST 2005 Diversion Work Release Center opened on May 11, 2012. The facility houses nonviolent offenders that have been sentenced to a work release program. It includes the design and construction of an estimated 8,000-square-foot facility and related infrastructure located on Lexington Road. The facility is designed to house up to 72 male inmates in an open dormitory-style.
We continue to operate under the 1991 Unification Mandates as well as the Georgia Department of Corrections rules and regulations in reference to housing state inmates with a focus on providing inmate labor. As of today, Athens-Clarke County Department of Corrections is meeting all of the unified government’s work-load measurements in reference to inmate labor requests. By using inmate labor to assist the government’s workforce, it offsets labor costs. This in-turn offsets the taxes needed to supply these services. Additionally, the Georgia Department of Corrections provides a daily subsidy to supplement the cost of housing each state inmate. Overall, the in-kind value of inmate labor exceeds the operating costs of the Athens-Clarke County Department of Corrections, which is a win-win for Athens-Clarke County and its citizenry. Furthermore, we provide the inmates with the required academic and community standards to encourage successful reentry into society upon their release.