At a time when the Howell Department of Public Works is busy with many projects including the town's the Monmouth County Sheriff's Office provided a few extra hands this week.
On Wednesday that included working at the new municipal building before clearing the grounds around the monuments and memorials at the old on Thursday.
Sheriff Shaun Golden, a Howell resident, said the Inmate Labor Program is meant to provide assistance to towns throughout the county without costing the taxpayers any additional money. Golden said his department has two crews that get dispersed throughout Monmouth County to help where they are needed.
That help can be anything from litter patrol on the side of the roads to landscaping or painting buildings. Either way he said it is a valuable experience for the inmates and an invaluable resource for the towns. "We call it a correctional institution for a reason," he said. "Those that want to help themselves and rehabilitate themselves this gives them an opportunity to get out and become a productive member of society."
Golden said all the members of the program are "non violent, low impact offenders," who require minimum security. "We bring them out into the communities, they help out and it's a savings for the community but it also gives them a chance toward that rehabilitation process."
The program has been around for close to a decade but Golden said since he took office he has worked to extend its reach and impact in the county. "We ramped up the hours we do. We almost tripled it last year and we're on target to beat that this year," he said.
In 2011 that including 124 days of work for the inmates and 992 hours of work spread across the county.
Other local projects they have worked on include clearing the area in Tinton Falls in the area of Wyckoff and Shafto Roads. In April 2011, inmates painted and cleaned up debris at the historic .
Golden said they have worked in all 53 towns in some capacity since the program began. "Public works can focus on other resources and we know it's do more with less especially in these tough economic times," he said. "This definitely helps out that effort."
Freeholder Lillian Burry said wherever the work is done it is appreciated by the municipalities. "Inmate labor is an outstanding example of shared services," she said. "it also helps the inmates reintegrate back into the community while repaying a debt to society."
Councilman Robert Nicastro said this is not the first time the program has been used in Howell. "When we were talking with the Manager (Helene Schlegel) we were thinking we could use their resources in other areas because we've got so much going on at the Global Building," he said.
Work is progressing at the new municipal complex with the goal being to have all the planned operations moved over by September. In addition to their regular duties the DPW employees have also helped get the new building in working order.
Nicastro said the administration sees the benefits the program holds for the residents, the town and the administration. "Obviously from the Sheriff's standpoint it's a resource that helps the town and as town officials we love it because it gives us those resources," he said. "It is a win-win. The inmates get to give back to the communities and we get that help from them."