Sheriff wants to change local work-release laws

Published 5:59 pm Thursday, November 14, 2019

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Covington County Sheriff Blake Turman is interested in changing the work-release laws so that he can use the money for updates in the department.

“The way that it is set now, the work-release funds can only be used for work-release purposes,” Turman said. “We need that money to bring our sheriff’s department into the present. With the release of these work-release funds, we can use it to buy equipment, cars and it will be used for work release, as well. Last year, I did use some of my own discretionary funds to conduct some things out of the jail, but right now, we can’t use those funds to do that unless it is work release.”

Turman said he did do his homework on the subject and found that several other counties that allow their sheriff to use work-release funds as they see fit.

“I suggest that we look into this,” Turman said. “I have sent a copy of another county’s law to Stephanie Cotton [county attorney.] We would, of course, maintain an account for the work-release funds and it would be subject to audit at any time.”

Currently, the sheriff provides the work-release inmates with a place to sleep.

“We provide them with mattresses and stuff like that,” Turman said. “There is only so much that we can do out there for them with the funds. I can use the funds for maintenance out there. We don’t provide them work clothes.”

The next step is getting a resolution of support from the commission and asking Rep. Mike Jones to file it in the next legislative session.

“Everything that would be purchased with the funds would still have to be approved by the commission,” Turman said. “I’m not going to take a blank checkbook and say, ‘Alright I got $10,000, I can get whatever I want from it.’ I would like for it to be a team effort.”

The commission did not choose to act on the approval of drafting a law.