Tony Thompson for Inmate Workers

Inmate Workers

As promised, January 2, 2009 the Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office once again began employing inmate work crews.

Since those first cold winter days, this program has increased its impact and services provided.  Inmates have worked in jail laundry, maintained jail floors, jail trash removal, re-painted the housing areas of the jail, filled potholes for the city of Waterloo, filled sandbags in preparation for flooding, painted swing sets and park equipment, mowed lawns, trimmed trees, weeded flowerbeds, worked in our city and county parks, and cleaned trash out of roadside ditches.

Inmate work crews now log over 25,000 hours of service a year.  Even at minimum wage, it is estimated that our Inmate Worker Program saves approximately $181,000 on public projects annually.

(Where these figures come from)... it has been suggested that I have over-estimated and made "false claims" regarding these figures.  Here's the "facts" (using extremely conservative numbers)!

Project Inmates (Average) Daily Hours  (Average) # of Days (per year) Total Man Hours
Laundry 5 10 365 18,250
Painting 4 8 180 5,760
Mowing/Shovelling 3 3 50 45
Loading/Unloading @ Jail 4 2 140 1,120
Range Development 4 8 30 960
Misc. (3rd Shift Cleaning/Maintenance) 3 4-6 25 300
Roadside Ditch Clean up 4 4-8 15 240
County/ State Park Clean up 4 4-8 10 160
Total 31 43 815 26,835

Lesson in politics:  1) Never make a claim you cannot substantiate, and  2) Just because you don't like the numbers, doesn't necessarily make them false.

We continue to look for ways to improve the quality of this impact and ensure the continuing success of the initiative.  If you have questions or suggestions, please go to: and hit the "contact us" page!