Collier inmates paint jail, big savings for taxpayers

The Collier County jail is looking brighter thanks to inmates who are sprucing up the facility and saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Six inmates have been working since early April painting the 25 housing areas and hallways of the 132,000-square-foot, three-story medium security jail at Collier County Sheriff’s Office headquarters in East Naples.

Once completed, inmates will start painting the adjacent 96,000-square-foot maximum security jail.

“Every wall, every bunk, every surface that can be painted has been painted,” Kevin McGowan, Jail logistics and Support Cmdr., said of the project so far.

The Sheriff’s office has been using inmates to paint the jail since 1981. The idea stemmed from retired jail Lt. Louis Gibbs, who saw it as a way to save taxpayers money while teaching inmates a life skill.

“We’re saving about a quarter of a million dollars using inmate labor to paint the jail instead of private contractors,” Cmdr. McGowan said.

Using inmate labor to save money is nothing new at the Sheriff’s office.

The Inmate Labor Program saves Collier County Domestic Animal Services more than $100,000 per year by providing inmates to clean kennels and care for shelter animals.

The inmates carrying out the paint job are learning job skills and will receive a certificate of achievement for their file that they can show to prospective employers once they’ve served their time.

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