By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Because the use of inmate labor as dishwashers in the kitchen is not working out well, Belknap County Commissioners have authorized the hiring of four part-time employees for the kitchen at the Belknap County Nursing Home.
Carolee Sliker, dietary manager at the nursing home, said that a pilot program over the last few weeks in which inmates are being paid $3 a day for work in the kitchen has seen "a parade of inmates coming through the kitchen who have behavior issues and do not want to work."
She sad that those who do want to work and do a good job are quickly lost as they qualify for work release programs, requiring the cooks to be constantly train new inmates, which she said involves paying overtime for the cooks.
"We are missing silverware because they do not want to sort it. Very often the dishes and pots and pans are not clean and have to be rewashed. Overtime is being used because he cooks can not get out on time and need to stay with the inmates." she wrote in her report. "Using inmates in the kitchen is not working. My staff and I are not trained Correctional Officers and the kitchen is not a rehabilitation center." She said that some of the inmates, who are escorted up to the kitchen by the Corrections Department officers, "are stealing things and working really slow and don't want to be here."
She proposed replacing the inmates who work in the kitchen evenings with her own staff from 4 to 7 p.m. and hiring four part-time dishwashers who would be cross-trained as dietary aides so they could help serves the residents at supper.
She said that hiring the part-timers would cost $40,000 a year which translates into an additional $20,000 for the rest of this year and that funds would have to be transferred for that purpose.
Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) said that while some parts of the CORE program at the corrections facility are working out it is obvious that the kitchen work for inmates is not. Commissioners agreed to Sliker's plan to hire part-timers for the kitchen when they met Wednesday morning.
Sliker has said previously that she is concerned about inmate labor and a possible shortage when the new community corrections center opens next year and the majority of inmates are involved in programs which would mean they would not be available for kitchen dish washing.
She says that in the future the county needs to be looking at replacing other inmates who work in the kitchen with four full-time staff members, which she said would cost $208,000 a year.
- Category: Local News
- Hits: 598