Crime is rampant in the abandoned buildings of Cook County, Illinois. The abandoned buildings have become havens for squatters, drug users, and rapists. “They have always been magnets of crime”, Sheriff Tom Dart said.
Desperate to find a way to reduce crime in his county, the Cook County Sheriff has devised a brilliant plan to both rid the community of the blight of the abandoned buildings and not burden the taxpayers with paying for their removal.
According to this recent Fox News article, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has enlisted the services of non-violent inmates who are near the end of their prison terms. By using inmate labor, it allows the inmates a chance to come away with legitimate job skills that could help them earn an honest wage once released.
The participating inmates are required to go through safety training and be certified by OSHA (the Occupational Health and Safety Administration). If possible, upon the completion of the inmate’s sentence, the jail administration tries to help with securing a job for the inmate.
A 19 year old inmate recently completed the work program and is thankful for the opportunity to redeem himself. “It’s easy to get a job on a construction site”, he said, “I was given a second chance”.
The mayor of the surrounding suburb of Dolton, Richard Riley, views this program as a blessing. “It helps us in regards to bringing our community back, it helps us in terms of safety of the neighbors around these blighted homes. It helps us to make the school area safe. It’s just a win-win situation for us.”
The inmate labor program doubly helps the community as no money is available in the local budgets for the demolition of the buildings.
The hopes are that this program will not only help restore the community, but also help the inmates from re-offending once they leave prison.