Dollar Deal!

Officials from Lauderdale County and the state were on hand Thursday at the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department to finalize a deal for a dollar.
That's how much the department paid the Mississippi Department of Transportation for a used van to transport state inmates who work as trusties.

"Frankly it gives these prisoners something to do. People like to see convicts out working and not laying up in a bunk somewhere. So, it's a great program," said Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall.

Lauderdale County was one of the first counties in Mississippi to sign up for the program ten years ago and partner with the state.

Each year local officials say the program saves the county a lot of money.

"Roughly it's going to save about $100,000 (a year)," said Lauderdale County administrator Joe McCraney. "What you have is a van donated by MDOT and Dick Hall and also we have inmates that are picking up trash on the side of the road instead of having to hire people to do it."

"Besides the county recouping the expenses of having the inmate do the work, the county is also reimbursed at $20 a day per (state trusty) inmate for housing that inmate," said Sheriff Billy Sollie.

"It's a win-win deal and a great example of how state and local governments can work together," said Hall. "We have a serious litter problem in Mississippi. We spend over $3 million a year at MDOT dealing with litter."

Sheriff Sollie says the van currently being used to transport trusties to pick up trash is not dependable. He says it often breaks down and thus cannot be driven. His hope is that the new van will help his department get a full 40 hours of work each week from trusties.

Although Lauderdale County is authorized to house up to 35 state inmates who serve as trusties, for now it only has 17. Of those, about six generally pick up litter along roadways. The rest primarily work around the courthouse making necessary deliveries or performing maintenance and cleaning duties.

Meanwhile, as for the litter pickup program that involves trusties in Mississippi, MDOT officials say most counties currently participate.

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