Pryor residents will soon see inmates working around town.
An agreement was made at Tuesday's Pryor City Council meeting between the city and the sheriff's office for an inmate work program.
The discussion came under an agenda item presented on the attorney's report.
“This is thanks to Mike [Sheriff Reed]. This was an issue he said he'd help us with. He's worked through some liability issues, so now we can have labor provided by inmates,” city attorney Kim Ritchie said.
The council read through the agreement which stipulates the sheriff is to have sole discretion in regard to decision making in this program.
The city may request the service of inmates to assist in “maintaining, repairing or beautifying public property and grounds” if the sheriff approves.
The sheriff has discretion over selection of individual prisoners who participate as well as stating the days or hours of provision.
Transportation of prisoners and supervision of prisoners by city employees is by the sheriff's discretion as well.
Council member Travis Noland asked for clarification on which city employees will have the authority to supervise inmates.
Mayor Jimmy Tramel said the inmates will work at the golf course and street departments and that employees there will provide supervision. Tramel said the rule is the city worker and the inmate have to be within eyesight of each other at all times.
Noland is concerned a new or temporary city worker could be placed in charge of inmates.
“We're looking at less hardened criminals so to speak. The ones that will be participating are in on child support or failures to pay,” said Tramel. “We will have a meeting with the jailer to teach the department heads the dos and don'ts.”
“The sheriff was very concerned the inmates have proper oversight so I don't think we have to worry about the level of supervision. He's very adamant that things are done correctly,” said Ritchie.
Ritchie said the city is not in a position to create a policy regarding the inmate supervision as it is all ultimately up to the sheriff.
Council member Leonard Barnes asked about the city's liability for any injuries that may occur while the inmates are working.
The agreement stipulates that the city “shall be solely responsible for all medical care and expenses of any prisoner injured in the course of performance of services provided to it under this agreement, and shall hold the sheriff harmless from there as to all loss, cost, damage or other claim or demand.”
Ritchie elaborated, saying it is a liability claim, not long-term insurance provision.
When it came down to a vote, Noland was the only no, and the agreement was approved.
Ritchie provided an update on Rocklahoma-related agreements. Rocklahoma is a music festival on the grounds south of Pryor beginning May 23 and continuing through May 26.
The first one, Ritchie explained, between the city and Pryor Creek Music Festivals Inc., covers the rental of equipment. He said this is the same price as previous years ($3,000) but is a more detailed agreement. The equipment mentioned is one quick response fire vehicle and one fire tanker.
The second agreement is for labor at Rocklahoma, between the city and Semper Blue Professional Services Inc.
Fire Chief Tim Thompson coordinates the provision of labor, which is the direction of people qualified to operate the equipment.
Thompson said the equipment is returned every night for safe keeping and that should the city have an emergency requiring the equipment it will be immediately available.
Barnes asked how the town can ensure equipment is being used safely by other workers. Thompson said a Pryor worker will be present at all times.
Ritchie stressed that the agreement stipulates the workers are to be considered off-duty and not working as a city employee.
This, Ritchie said, allows the city the confidence that qualified people are handling city equipment, but also protects from any liability issues.