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Arkansas Ups Work-Release Fees to Pay for Guard-Drivers

On October 27, 2006, the Arkansas Board of Corrections unanimously voted to increase the daily fees charged prisoners participating in the work-release program from $15 to $17. The increase is to be used to pay for guards to drive the prisoners to and from their work sites. The reason for the change is that three prisoner-drivers absconded--with the state-owned vans they were assigned to drive--within three months.

Kenneth Stumbaugh, 45, went missing from Little Rock on October 8, 2006. The van he was assigned was found the next day in a grocery store parking lot near the work site he was supposed to drive to. He surrendered to Missouri law-enforcement officials a week later. The Benton work-release program began using guards to drive prisoners on October 10, 2006.

Three months earlier, prisoner-drivers Tab Delancey, 41, and Clifton Sanders, 24, drove away from the Benton work-release program. They were recaptured in Ocala, Florida, about two weeks later.

The fee increase is expected to generate $348,000 in annual revenue from the approximately 500 prisoners involved in work-release programs, enough to pay for ten guards. Prisoners gross about $250 per week at the state?s current $6.25 minimum wage. About half of their net earnings will now go to fees. Arkansas collected a total of $2.6 million from work-release prisoners in 2006, an average of $5,092 per prisoner based on the 513 maximum number of work-release participants. This covers room, board and transportation costs. To be eligible for work release, prisoners must be within 30 months of release with no major disciplinary violations within three months. Prisoners with life or death sentences, or with convictions for escape, first-degree murder, sex offenses, kidnapping or more than one aggravated robbery are ineligible to participate in the work-release program.


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