Fairfax County Puts Jail Inmates to Work Outside

April 26, 2010

The chain gang is making a comeback in Fairfax County - only without the chains.

County corrections officials have been putting inmates to work mowing grass, removing snow, painting over graffiti and doing other outdoor work. Inmates volunteer for the program and get five days off their sentences for every 30 days of work.

The workers wear gray and orange uniforms and look like ordinary landscapers, except for their plastic ID bracelets and an armed sheriff's deputy nearby.

The Fairfax program has expanded rapidly over the past two years, helping to fill in the gaps for the cash-strapped Virginia Department of Transportation.

Inmate Loc Nguyen is serving his second sentence for possession of crack cocaine. He says the work keeps him busy and he likes being outside.

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