Friday was a mild July day — not too hot, but not quite comfortable — and Jamie Todd was busy pushing a mower through the grass in front of the old Lincoln County Courthouse.
All around Todd were the products of his work, like trimmed hedges and pressure-washed sidewalks.
"I've always took pride in my yard at home … keeping it looking nice," he said. "It just feels good to get outside and do the same thing here and take pride in my town's yard."
Todd isn't a courthouse employee — he doesn't even get paid for the work he does keeping the courthouse looking its best.
Todd is an inmate at the Lincoln County Regional Jail, where he has been imprisoned since May 23.
He is a father of a 4-year-old and a 10-month-old, has a pressure-washing and window-cleaning business and goes up for shock probation this coming Friday.
He is also one of a shrinking number of community service inmates who get the opportunity to do work while they're in the Lincoln jail.
Lincoln County Jailer David Gooch said his jail's community service program is on the decline because Lincoln County is seeing a local "crime explosion."
As more and more of the jail's capacity is used to house local arrestees, there are fewer and fewer beds available for the kinds of inmates — final sentence felons and misdemeanants — who are eligible for community service.
According to jail statistics, on Tuesday the jail housed 18 state inmates and 18 Garrard County prisoners. There were also 63 Lincoln County prisoners, making up nearly two-thirds of the jail population.
Gooch’s third-quarter report to the fiscal court, which was presented in May, shows the high number of Lincoln County prisoners is a continual issue. The jail averaged 68 Lincoln County prisoners during the first three months of 2012, compared to older averages around 59 prisoners per day, according to the report.
On Tuesday, the jail sent out 12 — three county and nine state — inmates to do community service work.
"In the heyday, it was double that," Gooch said.
Inmates at work
Organizations that use inmate labor from the Lincoln jail include the courthouse, the city of Stanford and Lincoln/Garrard Solid Waste.
Solid Waste Director Chris Thomason said he uses as many inmates as the jail can make available to him. Sometimes that means only a couple inmates; other times he may wind up with 10 prisoners at his disposal.
"We definitely rely on them and if we lost them we'd definitely be in bad shape," Thomason said. "This (solid waste) program was designed for inmate labor. It was started with inmate labor. So they're definitely vitally important to what we're doing here."
Inmates who work for solid waste do pretty much everything solid waste employees do, sans driving trucks, from picking up litter to processing recyclables to cleaning up illegal dump sites.
Inmate John Tompkins has been in the Lincoln jail for almost a month, during which time he has been working for Thomason at solid waste.