Hart Co. Still Talking About What To Do Regarding Inmate Labor

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia

How to handle the potential loss of prison help from the Whitworth Detention Center in Hartwell is just one of a number of topics that will be discussed at an upcoming work session of the Hart County Board of Commissioners.

Whitworth Detention Center is transitioning from an all male detention center for parole revocees to an all female prison. That transition began this week.

Hart County Administrator Jon Caime said that the cost to Hart County to replace the male prison workers with full-time employees would be about $350,000.

“The net impact could be as high as $400,000 but we’re looking at ways to reduce that,” Caime said. “We’re still not sure what’s going to be proposed by Whitworth. We’re hearing that the transition to all female detainees is not going to impact the services that come out of Whitworth.”

Hart County uses prison crews in the Maintenance, Recreation, Water, and Road departments, as well as for general maintenance.

Some municipalities have said they will continue to use female prison workers from Whitworth.

Caime said that Hart County is open to female prisoners replacing the male prison workers, but adds it presents a whole new set of issues that would have to be worked out.

“I know there’s been some concern by some all-male departments about putting female detainees in the mix,” Caime said. “If that is the case, and we do have the ability to use those resources, then we’ll look at putting in policies and procedures to make sure our employees are protected and everything can work as best as possible.”

At that upcoming work session, Hart County Commissioners also plan to discuss funding for the Northeast Georgia Animal Shelter and the hiring of two full-time employees for the Hart County Tax Assessor’s office.

A date and time for the work session has not yet been set.