RACINE COUNTY — In the near future Racine County Jail inmates could be used for more than just mowing medians because of changes to collective bargaining.
For the past two years jail inmates have mowed medians on state highways in the county. But union officials said it violated collective bargaining agreements and the county has been limited on what work inmates perform.
Now with Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining changes going into effect today, County Executive Jim Ladwig said inmates will be able to perform more tasks such as landscaping, painting, and shoveling sidewalks in the winter.
“We have a win-win when we use the inmates,” Ladwig said. “It gives them a sense of value they are helping the community.” At the same time, he said it will help the county maintain property that has been neglected.
No inmates would be required to help with county work, but those who do could receive reduced sentences, he said. Because of past union grievances the county was not able to offer reduced sentences. It was considered “compensation,” Ladwig said. But he plans to reinstate it.
He plans to start using inmates for more county work in the next few weeks. The use of inmates will not result in any public works staff reductions, Ladwig said.