Inmates Begin Cleaning Animal Kennels

The plan will save Cook County $230,000-plus, organizers say

Cook County Administrators are putting jail inmates to work in a new way -- by cleaning animal cages at a city shelter in a program that started Monday. 

Sixteen minimum-security inmates will clean cages at the center, saving Chicago taxpayers overtime costs incurred by shortages in staff and volunteers. Earlier this summer, the Cook County Board of Commissioners and Chicago City Council signed off on the plan.

Inmates will be paid $4 a day – a little less than $1 an hour, though double the standard rate inmate workers usually receive on jobs at the jail.

All of those selected for the program are serving short jail sentences for non-violent charges, most for traffic-related offenses. Inmates can use the money they make to purchase items through the jail commissary, including snacks and toiletry items.

The inmates are searched before they are escorted on a bus to be taken to the nearby animal center, and they are supervised by correctional officers the entire time.

They are again searched before returning to their jail cells. All will be wearing orange jumpsuits and will carry out their duties during hours when the facility is not open to the public.

The city will pay the sheriff’s office $231,059 a year to fund all inmate, officer and transportation costs associated with the program.

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