Auburn City Council considers prison work detail to fix roads

AUBURN - Auburn council members and Mayor Harold Money discussed implementing a prison work detail program at their Thursday planning meeting. David Hawthorne, Public Works director, outlined the program and stressed its importance to the city.

"This is an opportunity to accomplish things in one fell swoop," Hawthorne said. "Our roads need repair work and patching, and I'm sure you've seen the water and ditch problems."

A previous agenda item targeted areas that needed road work, and Hawthorne said the inmate work program may fix current problems and prevent future ones.

The program entails hiring a guard to oversee an average of 10 inmates. The inmates would work on road repairs, open ditches, subdivision cleanups, park and building renovations and cemetery cleanups.

"The prison work detail to me seems to use tax money effectively," said Janet Jeanes, an Auburn resident who attended the meeting. "One person to oversee 10 people who are giving maybe not 100 percent, but 80 percent, is good. I would be supportive of that."

Council members voiced concerns about whether the budget would allow for the guard's salary and road repair equipment. Money said he was concerned about whether the city would be liable for injuries inmates may suffer. The plan was not dismissed, but Hawthorne was asked to produce more thorough statistics and projections.