Program would employ inmates in county-run nursing home

Officials in Belknap County, NH, have agreed to test a new program that would allow inmates from the county jail to work at the county-run nursing home for $3 a day.

The program would put inmates to work washing dishes and doing laundry at Belknap County Home in Laconia, NH, or work as part of the grounds crew on the property. In order to qualify for the program, an inmate would have to be a minimum risk, nonviolent offender. A waiver might be made available to allow inmates awaiting trial to participate in the program as well, the Laconia Daily Sun reports.

Getting inmates to work within the community is a good idea because there are too many “sitting around watching television,” Belknap County Commission Chairman David DeVoy said in a recent meeting..

Nursing homes with similar inmate work programs have come under fire in the past. In 2005, another county-run New Hampshire facility was forced to change its work release program after an inmate working in the kitchen was found to be on the state's sex offender registry. The facility's administrator was fired following the discovery; county officials said they would still likely hire inmates to do grounds work but not allow them to have direct contact with residents.

An inmate working in the laundry room of a Tennessee nursing home escaped from his work detail in 2012 but was later found hiding in the attic of a nearby home.