Sheriff Speaks Out on Inmate Labor Allegations - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

09/20/04

Sheriff Speaks Out on Inmate Labor Allegations

Sheriff Mike Kile Sheriff Mike Kile

Former inmates accuse Screven County sheriff Mike Kile of illegally working them on private property. Today, Sheriff Kile responded to the allegations. He says all the work was voluntary, paid for, and completely out in the open.

The parking lot at Screven County Hospital has new lines and brightly colored curbs. The painters aren't private contractors but inmates from the county jail. Over the weekend, an Augusta newspaper article accused Sheriff Kile of illegally using inmates for grounds work at churches and other private property.

The only thing the sheriff denies is that any of it is illegal. "They're paid a minimum of $10 an hour when they go out," he said. "The money is usually to pay their fine or given to their families, and we think it's a good public service they do."

The sheriff says if the inmates volunteer for the work, get paid from the county discretionary budget, they're supervised and even fed from grateful church members, where's the problem?

"If you go in there right now and ask, 'Who wants to clean up at XYZ Church in the county, to cut grass around a cemetery before a funeral tomorrow, I need five folks,' and you'd have 20 want to go," Sheriff Kile said.

He says he's used the labor for 12 years under advisement from his attorney. With an election just five weeks away, he wonders if this attention is politically motivated. He says he won't change a thing and leaves it up to the voters of Screven County to decide.

Kile says some of the accusations are brought by former inmates who sought work from him after they served their time. The district attorney's office says they'll look into the the charges.

The story came from the Augusta Chronicle, which also brought out similar allegations against former Jenkins County sheriff Bobby Womack earlier this year. Womack resigned. Kile says he has no intention of resigning.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

Powered by Frankly