View Full Version : Inmate trusties have to meet certain traits

06-27-2005, 01:44 PM

Inmate trusties have to meet certain traits
Nature of offense, special skills are considered

By Natasha Smith

Lamar County inmate Oosha Mitchell worked his first day as a trusty Wednesday picking up trash.

"It makes the time go by faster," he said.

Mitchell said he was selected as a trusty because he wanted to work and he wasn't a flight risk. Mitchell was arrested for possession of marijuana.

Mike Harlin, Lamar County's jail administrator, said various factors determine an inmate's trusty status. Factors include the nature of the offense, the offender's hometown and its proximity to Lamar County, special skills the inmate may possess and the inmate's attitude.

State trusties serving a mandatory or death sentence, habitual offenders and those convicted of armed robbery and sex offenders are not considered for trusty status. A trusty usually must not have been convicted of a violent offense.

"It's hard to get good trusties," Harlin said.

Once an inmate becomes a Lamar County trusty, he or she works in a supervised setting. The only inmates who work unsupervised are state trusties who clean the courthouses.

While county trusties do not receive time off for time worked, state trusties do. In Lamar County, state trusties get 30 days off their sentence for every 30 days worked on the road crew.

The county also offers the Lamar County Work Program for trusties, a joint effort with the Mississippi Department of Corrections. State trusties participate in drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs while working for a year. The program is offered to inmates who violate probation.

"This basically gives them a second chance," he said.

For those who don't get time off, the benefit is just the chance to get out of the cell.

"It's just a privilege for them to have outside exercise," Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said.

Forrest County trusties may be outdoors, but Forrest County Sheriff Billy McGee said they must abide by certain rules.

McGee said trusties are not to enter stores, use the telephone or borrow money, among other restrictions.

However, he said his trusties do not work under constant supervision. Their supervisors are responsible for signing them in and out.

"They do not work under the gun," he said. "That's why they're trusties."

Originally published June 27, 2005