There’s another way of breathing free air while serving a jail sentence, but it might involve shoveling livestock feces. So long as an inmate is eligible, meets specific requirements and is accepted to the program, he or she can make the time spent in jail feel quicker, and be shorter.
Instead of paying a debt to society by sitting in a room with four white walls, a select few are helping out at Cam-plex, maintaining the grounds at the jail, washing government vehicles, or completing custodial or cooking work inside the prison. Locals recognize them by their horizontal black and white stripes removing snow in front the entrance of the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office on a cold day. But they never cease to offer a warm welcome to anyone who passes by. The 12 men of cell block P and three women in cell block J feel fortunate to be part of the program, it certainly has its advantages, but not everyone can participate.
The inmate work program allows inmates to pay off a portion of court cost, fines and fees, or even shorten their jail sentence. At 40 hours a week and five work days, that can drastically shorten life behind bars.
A typical walk through the prison halls warrants inquiries from a number of inmates. “If I plead guilty can I?” A female inmate pending trial asks for clarification on the program as she exits her block. “I only have one felony,” she implores.
“Just because we wear stripes doesn’t mean we are violent or angry or trying to get away with something,” inmate Herald Rank said.
Last weekend was state wrestling. Which meant many photogs around the country looked down their viewfinder at high emotion, intense muscles, and nosebleeds. All the while trying to avoid nut shots. Our local paper covers the team that has won state for the last 11 years in a row. And they won again this year. To put that in perspective, some of the current wrestlers hadn’t learned to walk the last time the Campbell County Camels lost at state. But because of the constant victories, there was a lack of emotion that many are used to seeing. So I shot some other kids in leotards too.