Following some initial phases and testing, the Town of Oro Valley has implemented a yearlong Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the Arizona Department of Corrections to form an inmate labor program to be called the Community Betterment Program.

The decision to initiate the program comes about nine years after the Town of Marana began a similar labor program, which Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson said has not only saved money, but has run successfully without any negative incidents.

According to Paul Keesler, Oro Valley’s Director of Development and Infrastructure Services, the program will make use of low-risk inmates from the Marana Community Correctional Treatment Facility.

“We plan to start with three inmates per day, working up to a crew of six or seven inmates,” he said.

The inmates will be supervised by the town’s operation staff, which has already attended a training session held by the Arizona Department of Corrections. The Department of Corrections will also conduct random jobsite checks to ensure security.

The inmates chosen for the program are considered a low-security risk due excellent behavior and short amount of time remaining on his or her sentence.

“The average length of time to serve is between one and three years,” said Keesler. “The inmates for this program have been incarcerated mainly for substance abuse.”

No criminal who has been convicted of any sex offense will be considered for the program.

Prisoners will be assigned to skill-appropriate tasks that do not take away jobs from other citizens, but will instead focus on work that would otherwise not be completed due to staffing or budgetary restrictions.

The Town’s initial testing of the program had inmate labor crews remove vegetation from Steam Pump Ranch and Mutter’s Wash without incident.

Town Manager Greg Caton expects the Community Betterment Program to run smoothly.

“This is a great opportunity to maintain our community’s high standards for aesthetic beauty at very little cost,” he said. “Based on the success of our pilot program, we look forward to continuing this partnership with the Arizona Department of Corrections.”

Mayor Satish Hiremath agreed with Caton.

I love this project,” he said. “It’s a much-needed service with low-risk offenders toward the tail end of their sentences. This is just another example of how Oro Valley continues to partner with other regional groups.”

Inmate crews will work Monday through Friday, and will be paid 50 cents per hour. Their duties will consist mainly of roadside work and maintaining drainage vegetation.

The intergovernmental agreement was signed on July 18, and prisoners will begin work on Sept. 17. At the end of the yearlong agreement between the Town and Department of Corrections, there will be an option to renew for an additional term if both parties agree.

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