Inmates Tapped to Patch Cruisers

February 13, 2008

JACKSON, MS - A lot of smashed and overworked Jackson police cars have found new value, according to the Clarion Ledger. Recently, the Police Department began a repair program that strips the broken down vehicles for parts and uses inmate labor from the county jail to fix banged up, but still functioning cars.

The program began as a way to stretch the Police Department’s car repair budget. According to Chief Malcolm McMillin, who is also sheriff of Hinds County, has long used inmates housed at the county’s detention center for picking up litter along roadways, clearing overgrown vacant lots, and other tasks.

Detective Earnest Perry oversees Jackson Police Department’s fleet that includes more than 500 cars. He estimated in-house repairs using recycled parts have saved the city more than $12,000 so far. By mid-year, the department expects to have saved more than $60,000.

Before, heavily damaged cars or cars that had reached the end of their life spans were auctioned off “as is.” Those cars typically fetched between $500 and $2,500 each. Repair shops were usually the purchasers.

JPD has about 19 donor cars available. More will be added each time the fleet is updated, swapping out old cars for new.

Perry’s crew consists of four inmates, two for repair work and two to operate the car wash. While inmates do the rough body work, any technical repairs are still done by city mechanics or at private shops. And before the cars are put back in service, they are checked out by mechanics or a dealership.

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