Inmates Serving and Sleeping At Amherst's Shelter - - ABC13

Inmates Serving and Sleeping At Amherst's Shelter


Reporter: Rachel Schaerr  l  Videographer: Daniel Heffner

Amherst, VA - They serve food, do laundry, and pass out bags of ice like any other volunteer at Amherst County's shelter. But two men are wearing orange jumpsuits.

Frankie Carroll has been locked up since December for domestic violence and violating parole.

Since Saturday morning, he and another inmate from the Blue Ridge Regional Jail have been living and working at the shelter, an opportunity that couldn't happen anywhere else in the state.

"I never thought I'd be back again doing what we're doing now," Frankie Carroll said, lifting ice bags into a freezer.

For six days, he's been passing out ice, restocking freezers and serving food to dozens of people at Amherst County's cooling center.

"We've had a lot of senior citizens, we've had a lot of people here with health and respiratory issues. These guys have been special working with those people," said Sheriff Jimmy Ayers.

Nellie Richards has been staying at the shelter since Wednesday -- her son doesn't exactly understand why.

"He said it must be really bad when his parents would prefer going to jail rather than going and staying with them," Richards said, laughing.

Her husband thought the men wearing the orange jumpsuits -- were helping on their own.

But, thanks to the cooling shelter's special security, the inmates can sleep upstairs and work whenever they're needed.

When the shelter closes, they'll return to the Blue Ridge Regional Jail.

The sheriff just hopes they leave with a different outlook on life.

"If they don't realize they are worth something, I don't know what else will," the sheriff said.

In nine days, Frankie Carroll has a 14 month old son he'll go home to, with no plans of returning to cell walls.

"Life's short, freedom's precious. You don't realize what you got until it's gone," he said.

On Wednesday, Frankie Carroll got to set off the fireworks for the town's Fourth of July show.  He says the looks on the kids' faces were by far the highlight of his week.


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