Bedford County Launches First Ever Inmate Work Program - WSET.com - ABC13

Bedford County Launches First Ever Inmate Work Program

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Reporter: Lauren Compton l Videographer: Daniel Heffner

Bedford Co., VA - For the first time ever, Bedford County is using inmates to clean up the county roads. The Sheriff's Office launched the program about two weeks ago, and the inmates have already done a lot of work.

In just two weeks they picked up 50 to 60 bags of trash, but the Sheriff's Office say this program also helps the inmates. It gives them a chance to give back, and some say it's a way to hopefully make some amends.

There is no amount of trash that can undo what Kevin Goode did in his past, but he hopes it will show he's on a better path.

"I made bad choices in my life coming up, but I've changed myself now. I'm trying to do right," said Goode.

He is one of the first inmates to volunteer for the work program. At least three days a week, they will be out doing this back-bending work. The idea of inmates out on county roads might not sit well with some. But, the Sheriff's Office says safety is their first priority.

"There is no reason for anyone to be concerned for anyone to be concerned about the security of children or anybody," said Major Ricky Gardner with the Bedford County Sheriff's Office.

Convicted felons are not allowed to participate, and Major Ricky Gardner says all inmates in the program are low-risk, non-violent offenders. An armed deputy will be on watch at all times.

"We're just out here working. We're not trying to escape or hurt anybody. We're just wanted to get out," said Brad McRae, an inmate participating in the work program.

The price tag of this program is $30,000, funded by the Board of Supervisors, and they are already seeing results.

"We've had numbers of calls and e-mails thanking us for starting this program. We are serving the citizens the best we can with the resources we have," said Bill Thomasson, a Bedford County Supervisor.

And, the inmates say the rewards are much deeper than a break from being behind bars, but a means of paying back what they took from the community.

"You know we committed crimes. We're locked up so we're just giving back to society, making up for the wrongs we did," said McRae.

This program also helps the Virginia Department of Transportation keeps secondary roads clean--because they don't normally tend to them. The inmates will not get any time served for this work.

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