Going inside to learn about inmate work detail

MUSCOGEE COUNTY PRISON, Ga.-On Monday, authorities say that 23-year-old Shawn Doby was on work detail at Riverdale Cemetary where he was weed-eating. Soon after, authorities say he escaped and carjacked two people before turning himself in. According to the Warden of the Muscogee County Prison, Dwight Hamrick, this marked the third Muscogee County Prison inmate to escape a work detail since January.

Hamrick also adds that Doby was properly assigned on the work detail, but the two guards watching the inmates were not properly supervising as they were assisting in the work inmates were doing. Hamrick says that those guards work for Public Works. News 3 reached out to Public Works to learn the status of those guards, but they were unable to comment on personnel matters.

After the incident on Monday, News 3 wanted to learn more about inmate work detail. In discussions with Warden Hamrick, he told News 3 that 74,356 inmates have left the Muscogee County Prison to go on inmate detail. Of the 576 inmates at Muscogee County Prison, not all of them are eligible to go on outside work detail. Hamrick said that no sex offenders or validates gang members can go on outside work detail. Any prisoners with 15 or more years left on a sentence cannot go out either. Those charged with armed robbery and aggravated assault can go out if they have less than 15 years left on a sentence.

414 inmates at Muscogee County Prison get to go on outside work detail
414 inmates at Muscogee County Prison get to go on outside work detail

Hamrick says that once inmates arrive to Muscogee County Prison, a classification committee consisting of one counselor, the Deputy Warden of Administration Care and Treatment and a security member review the inmate’s file to see what area of work is best for them and the city. From there, the Deputy Warden of Security and the Warden screen the inmate again for the area they’ve been assigned.

Hamrick added that all detail officers are properly trained. Some are armed and others are not. The officers go through correctional officer training with the Georgia Department of Corrections. They must then go through 20 hours of in-service training annually, get firearm re-certification annually, as well as judgmental use of deadly force.

Hamrick says that whenever any inmate goes out on work detail, it is a risk. In the event of an escape, Hamrick attributes it to one thing: “Human error is always at the root of that problem.”

Hamrick told News 3 that inmate work detail saves the City of Columbus $17 million a year in labor costs.

News 3 also had the chance to speak with two inmates who are on work detail. Adrian Bentley has the chance to work at Oxbow Creek Golf Course. While he’s there, he cuts the tee boxes, greens, rakes the bunkers among other things.

“It means a lot for me,” Bentley said. I like going out there. Being in prison, time goes by real slow and being able to go outside and actually see the outside world and see freedom, it gives you hope to where every day gets a little bit closer to going home.”

Aaron Blocker has the chance to work on beautification projects for the City of Columbus. “It definitely helps clear my mind,” Blocker said. “It also passes my time, passes my day. I’m out there. I feel good. It gives me hope and a chance that I have to get back out and do the right thing; to be with my family, grow my kids.”

With the skills that Adrian has learned, he said he could potentially run a golf course when his sentence his up. Blocker says he plans to pursue a degree in culinary arts when his sentence is up.

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