By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
The City of Royston says it will continue to use prison workers from Whitworth Detention Center until their contract with the prison runs out, no matter whether those prisoners are male or female.
That was the decision of the Royston City Council at its regular meeting earlier this month.
Whitworth Detention Center is switching from an all male to an all female facility by the first of the year.
Counties and municipalities across Northeast Georgia contract with the Detention Center for prison labor to supplement their regular workers, thus saving them thousands of dollars in a year in salary and benefits they would otherwise have to pay.
Royston uses one prison crew in their road department and several prisoners as cleaning crews.
While the potential loss of male prison crews has become a problem for some municipalities, Royston City manager Greg Scott said his town doesn’t see it that way.
Several local governments, such as the City of Lavonia and Hart County say they have no plans to use female prisoners when the switch in population at the Detention Center is made.
However, Scott says he has no problem with that.
Royston’s contract with Whitworth Detention Center runs through June 2013 at a cost to the town of about $40,000 plus the van to transport prisoners, equipment and materials.
Toccoa also uses prisoners from Whitworth. City officials said they would to use a female crew from Whitworth once the switch is made if that is what was available.
Last month, Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gwendolyn Hogan said that the community work that has been provided by offenders will stay in place, but added that it has not been determined if it will be provided by the female population at Whitworth or if the DOC will be getting male offenders and will bring them to the community to do that work.