Sheriffs can keep inmates for labor but no housing pay

After complaints that communities would get hit with a $23 million price tag from the loss of inmate labor, Corrections Commissioner Marshall Fisher is making a counteroffer — keep the inmates, minus the housing pay.

This inmate labor, through the Joint State-County Work Program, supplies key services to the 30 counties taking part in the program, including picking up trash, repairing county vehicles and fixing courthouses.

In April, Fisher announced he would begin phasing out the program Aug. 1, drawing ire from the Mississippi Association of Supervisors, the Mississippi Municipal League, the Mississippi Sheriffs’ Association and many others.

“The Mississippi Department of Corrections is not obligated to make sure the budgets of the counties stand up, especially at a time when our department is receiving $23 million less than the Legislative Budget Office recommended,” said Fisher, who estimates the change would save $3.2 million.