Loss of inmate labor has impact on local services

By MICHELLE PERRY State Journal Staff Writer Published:

The kitchen staff of the Franklin County Senior Citizens Center used to include eight, but now scrapes by with only two. Full-time cooks Benita Cornett and Sandy Johnson say they miss the inmates who once shared their kitchen.

"For the last two months it's been really hard," said Cornett.

The center, as well as other local agencies, has been experiencing a budget crisis since the recent release of several class D felons from the Franklin County Regional Jail. The inmates formerly worked in the kitchen helping to serve lunch and perform janitorial work. The release came as part of Gov. Paul Patton's attempt to offset a state fiscal shortfall.

Inmates are also used daily in the Capitol Annex cafeteria and for special events at the Governor's Mansion. But these are state inmates from the Frankfort Career Development Center, not the county jail, according to Lisa Lamb with the Department of Corrections.

Jailer James Kemper of the Franklin County Regional Jail said between 75 and 80 of his inmates once worked in the community every day. "That work force has been cut by two-thirds," he said. "The Senior Citizens Center is very dear to me, but I had to decrease work there."

For more on this story, see the latest State Journal.

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