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Flagler Jail Inmates Among Work Crews That Cleaned Up Homeless Camp Near Public Library

| March 21, 2019

Flagler County jail inmates at work cleaning up the homeless camp near the public library in Palm Coast. (FCSO)

Flagler County jail inmates at work cleaning up the homeless camp near the public library in Palm Coast. (FCSO)

An inmate work crew from the Flagler County jail was among crews conducting the cleanup of county grounds around the Flagler County Public Library off Palm Coast Parkway this week and last.

The grounds had over the years become home to some three dozen homeless individuals, with larger numbers clustering there in the past year and a half. The grounds had unsanitary, with large accumulations of garbage, feces and abandoned property, triggering complaints from neighbors and library staff. The work was completed this week, Interim County Administrator Jerry Cameron said–and the homeless were to be granted access to the property again, since the county has no alternative for them at the moment.

The use of inmate work crews began out of the county jail last summer as part of the sheriff’s “Stride” programs designed to rehabilitate offenders and reduce recidivism. For the inmate crews, it was the latest opportunity to work outdoors and, as the sheriff sees it, to save taxpayers some money. Inmates volunteer for the program, and usually do so with enthusiasm: it’s a chance to get out of the jail complex and for some, a chance to develop skills they can later apply in gainful employment. As inmate workers, they’re not paid–a condition that’s raised the ire of prisoner advocates over the years–but the unpaid work is no different than unpaid work carried out by so-called trustees at the jail, in the kitchen, in the laundry room or on other assignments.

Currently, according to a sheriff’s release, the “Inmate Work Crew,” as the agency refers to its workers, provides landscaping and grounds keeping services to thirteen locations within Flagler County including the jail complex at the end of Justice Lane, the nearby fire tower training center area, the (evacuated) Sheriff’s Operations Center, whose grounds must still be maintained in accordance with Bunnell regulations, and several other county facilities. By state law, wardens are prohibited from using inmates on private property.

The inmates selected to participate in are all non-violent county-sentenced inmates, as opposed to inmates in pre-trial detention (who form the majority of the jail’s population). They are supervised by a trained detention deputy at no additional cost to tax payers. In addition to landscaping, the Inmate Work Crew tackles other tasks on an as needed basis like removing old graphics on police vehicles going to auction, moving furniture, and much more. During Hurricane Irma inmates filled sandbags for residents to use in protecting their homes.

Since last summer, the sheriff’s office estimates that the inmate work crews have performed the equivalent of $75,000 worth of work, an amount that would otherwise have had to be paid with taxpayer dollars to regularly paid work crews.

“The Inmate Work Crew has been beneficial for everyone involved,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “The taxpayer savings from not having to pay for outsourcing these services speak for themselves. There is absolutely no downside to having the Inmate Work Crew, we are saving tax dollars and providing much needed work experience for the inmates where they learn how to use landscaping equipment. Programs like the Inmate Workforce and Stride are used to rehabilitate offenders and encourage them to turn their lives around and become productive citizens by providing them the tools to be successful when released from jail.”

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24 Responses for “Flagler Jail Inmates Among Work Crews That Cleaned Up Homeless Camp Near Public Library”

  1. JEK says:

    The homeless should have been MADE to clean up their OWN mess. Just because you’ve been arrested doesn’t mean you should HAVE to clean up that god awful and Totally Unsanitary MESS!!! And now of course they can come back and keep living those unsanitary lives !!! It’s going to have to be cleaned again because I know they haven’t turned into Martha Stewart’s!!!!

  2. Josh Davis says:

    Congratulations to Sheriff Staly and the rest of the FCSO. This is truly a win-win. I know guys that sit in those cells that would give their right arms to be on that crew. Common sense wins for once.

  3. Concerned Citizen says:

    Other than gloves I don’t see any PPE issued. I thought this was a Hazardous Waste site? Any reason why the SO didn’t provide this to their inmates?

  4. MiaMia says:

    I think it’s a great idea. Learning a skill set might actually keep these guys out of jail in the future. Saves us tax dollars too! Thx Sheriff
    The homeless wouldn’t clean it up. Hence the reason they had the prisoners do it. Capiche’ ? 😁

  5. Wes says:

    The inmate work crews and their “free labor” are stealing work from legitimate local businesses.

  6. The original woody says:

    Props to those guy’s but keep them on stand by to do it again and again.Where’s Ms.Candlewood is she helping?Some people talk a big game but when it’s time to get there hands dirty they pull Houdini.

  7. Common Sense says:

    Great idea! But how do you propose to “MAKE” the homeless clean it up themselves? A whip, pehaps? That may do the trick 🤔 Or maybe just tell them they HAVE TO clean it up themselves, then wait for that to happen….? Hold a gun to their heads? …. Idk. Maybe just lock em all up if they don’t comply so then taxpayers will be paying for the “3 hots and a cot” they’ll be receiving in jail.

  8. ConstantlyAmazed says:

    So has the county devised a schedule for upcoming and ongoing “cleanups” ? Or did the indigenous population pledge to maintain their “squatted” area? Who is going to monitor the conditions and we’ll being of the tenants who are now allowed to inhabit county lands ?

    I wonder who’s heads at the City of Palm Coast are going to roll for this ?

  9. New to the area! says:

    Good job! Can we use them to clean up some of the ever increasing litter I see?

  10. Cynthia Barrett says:

    Nothing new about chain gangs. The county is still paying for the officers overseeing these inmates.

  11. carol says:

    Unbelievable!!! Have those homeless scum clean up their own mess!!!
    Or send them to jail!!

  12. Ritchie says:

    The county has just bought the Sears building on Palm Coast Parkway. I think it would be a great idea to house some of these souls there.

    It will be healthier for them and for every one else, and that would be just one of many great rewards of such a step.


  13. Ritchie says:

    I see some really cruel words about these unlucky people.
    EASY folks! You never have a guarantee that you will not end up one of them.

  14. atilla says:

    Unlucky people????? They want to live this way and MOOCH off the citizens that are stupid enough to donate for their drugs, i-phones and lottery tickets. That keeps them busy so they don’t have time to clean up their own shit. Both the county and city commissioners are a bounch of freeloaders only interested in lining their pocket with some of the shady deals they’ve been in. A state inspection is needed or the ROCK in Walking Tall to clean up this corrupted county.

  15. Bridget says:

    Can we just realize a homeless person JUST ROBBED A GAS STATION?!? BUT YET WE ARE DOING THEM A FAVOR BY CLEANING UP THAT AREA?!? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. I live VERY close to that area and I saw one sleeping in the median just yesterday… why is this okay?? But yet I get fines if my grass is to long or my trash can sat out an extra day, but these people get an oh I feel bad for them let’s clean up their mess.. I for one think us tax paying citizens should be outraged by this. And then they cut back the woods so EVERYONE can see that mess. Its ridiculous, get a job or check into rehab and be a valued citizen of society or get out!

  16. MiaMia says:

    Some of these comments are not only ignorant but just heartless. Do yourself a favor and Google “homeless” people. Most have mental issues, others fell really down on their luck and a lot of them are Vets, who after serving our country, are really messed up.
    The point of the article is that the Sheriff is using inmates around the county to do various tasks saving us tax dollars. One of them is cleaning up the area all of you were complaining about.

  17. denise Calderwood says:

    Yes Ms. Calderwood is doing her part…what are all you doing? I don’t know since you use fake names when you comment? I cleaned the area and I helped organize the homeless to do it too (see the Palm Coast Observer story- they have pictures of the homeless cleaning) However, I was given the message and I heard it loud and clear to stay out of the area or else…..because I am an enabler !

    So for the record, I do not support the homeless living behind the library but they have no where else to go…unless maybe the newly purchased Sears building, or the Abandoned Sheriffs office or maybe the beautiful cottages at Princess Place Preserve that we will be renting out to tourists!

    We have limited programs and services for those needing help and those that we do have are underfunded and at best provide a band aid approach and homelessness is a complex and individual issue.

    And talk about accountability- we have had to fight to get our share of the social service crumbs from Volusia County agencies that serve us and that we are paying for with our very limited tax dollars. And where is our county’s commitment —- Volusia County has just allocated 18 million of their taxpayers dollars toward their homeless issue.

    But its OK…we seem to be happy with our share of the social service crumbs- so all I can say is Keep Working Harder so that you can maintain what you have….and if your retired please pray that your health stays good, your car and vision still work, and your retirement investments keep up with the high cost of living here in Flagler County…I know that didn’t happen for the eight senior citizens that are living in the library woods…. and that is what I call criminal but let’s arrest them and put them on a work crew !

    And now for the people who asked for the area to be cleaned- enjoy looking at the blue tarps because I have yet to see a workable solution ..the only solution being offered is asking the agencies that were already supposed to be serving our community to start serving us- I guess I should be happy with that- we are now holding some people accountable… but apparently not the right ones…..

  18. CW says:

    They should at the very least be made to keep the area clean the future. If we allow them to do this we are encouraging them. I believe in a hand up not a hand out.

  19. lnzc says:

    There are a lot of poor people who work jobs with low pay
    These bums get handouts free and no work for
    Anyone giving to them enable it,buys alcohol and drugs
    put them on a work farm or rehab
    Why is the county suppling a home

  20. tew says:

    I can’t believe that it’s ok for inmates to clean up the mess made by the people living in that camp. NO ONE should clean up that area except for the people who live there. What is wrong with the City of Palm Coast and Flagler County to allow this ridiculous situation to continue? Does anyone actually think these people will now keep that area clean? I highly doubt it. The city and county have just shown these people it’s ok to do whatever they want with no repercussions. The inmates are made to work so the homeless should be doing the same. They are able bodied-make them work. We are making things too easy for these people. I think it’s disgracedul that inmates are good enough to clean up this mess. Are the homeless better than inmates? I guess Flagler County must think so. Apparently the homeless are too good to clean up their own mess. What’s wrong with this picture Flagler County?????

  21. ASF says:

    Whatever happened to the idea of the port-a-potties? It would seem to me that, whomever ends up cleaning the waste, it would be safer to try to contain it in some fashion. Judgments aside, folks, this is a reality that we are, as a community, going to have to focus on trying to deal with as intelligently as possible.

  22. Ld says:

    What is punishment for littering and creating a hazardous environment ? At minimum require those who made mess to clean it. If inmates “volunteer” to HELP clean provide them with protective masks etc.

  23. Concerned Citizen says:

    @ Ms. Calderwood.

    If you bothered to follow other threads you would see what a lot of us are doing. You Edith Campins and Percy’s Mom keep telling us we aren’t doing enough. Besides feeding and clothing these folks how much more am I supposed to do when I myself continue to live paycheck to paycheck.

    As you might not be aware I work in the maintenance field and service properties affected by the more disrespectful homeless. The ones who will crap all over the front entrance of a busniess because they were trespassed after charging their devices at night. The ones who leave their garbage and drug paraphenilia all over. And it has to be cleaned BEFORE a busniess can open.

    These busniesses don’t have the extra capital to have to have it cleaned up. Yet if they don’t they face huge code enforcement fines. We have to deviate from more vital assignments in order to address a situation that shouldn’t even happen. Yet it does. Why because the ones that are disrespectful feel entitled and will tell you as much.. How did they end up with more rights than us?

    Even after all of this I will still get a meal from somewhere and make sure that someone has water or the neccesary clothing. And regardless of being chastized by certain commenters I still refuse to give money. I’m not supplying your habit when I have bills to pay. I also won’t have someone in my home that I don’t know. One homeless person molested family members and another beat his dad before robbing a store.

    I have served most of my adult life in Public Safety after serving my 4 years in the Airforce.. I know how easy it is to get down on your luck. I can also tell the ones who want to change and have helped those successfuly. I have also tried to help the ones that don’t and end up right back where they are. At that point how much more sympathy do I need to express?

    A commenter recently asked why I expect our BOCC to do more than individuals? Why? Simply because they have the resources. Stop blowing our money on usless projects. Try spending it on resources to build programs and shelters. A private citizen can only do so much. Yet we can ALL push for change.

  24. Willy Boy says:

    Wow, those inmates will do anything to get outside.

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