Trending Topics

Wyo. inmates volunteer at cemetery for Memorial Day prep as part of sheriff’s office’s new program

The Laramie County Sheriff’s Office program allows inmates to get outside of the jail facilities, while also giving back to the community

Screenshot 2024-05-22 171041.png

The program is available for inmates to sign up for, and is not mandatory; however, most are eager to join, jail officials said.

Laramie County Sheriff’s Office

By Noah Zahn
Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Cheyenne

BURNS, Wyo. — At the Burns Cemetery on Monday, five Laramie County jail inmates helped clean the grounds and prepare it for the anticipated increase in visitors on Memorial Day.

The work is part of a new program from the Laramie County Sheriff’s office that allows inmates to get outside of the jail facilities, while also giving back to the community.

These efforts are the first of what Laramie County Sheriff Brian Kozak hopes will be many to allow inmates to volunteer in the county as a part of the new Inmate Work Crew Program. The program is available for inmates to sign up for, and is not mandatory; however, most are eager to join, jail officials said.

Sgt. Robert Perkins, who was overseeing the crew on Monday, said that all the inmates who were eligible to volunteer expressed interest in helping out. However, since they only had five GPS ankle bracelets available, they had to limit the number of inmates who volunteered to five.

Perkins said inmates who are nonviolent offenders and not a risk to the safety of the community are eligible to volunteer for the jail’s Inmate Labor Program. There are currently around 16 inmates in the program, which typically cleans and prepares food for the inmates.

“They’re hired, but they don’t get any pay. It’s just an alternate place to stay and live and just actually work instead of sitting around watching TV or doing absolutely nothing,” Perkins said.

As LCSO anticipates receiving five more ankle bracelets to allow for up to 10 inmates to volunteer in this program, the Inmate Labor Program will become short-staffed on days the Inmate Work Crew Program events occur.

Back at the jail on Monday, those who didn’t go to Burns had to pick up some of the extra work, and Perkins said they will be rewarded with root beer floats.

To address this shortage in the future, he said he hopes the jail will be able to recruit more inmates to the Inmate Labor Program so they can host larger and more frequent volunteer events. The opportunity to get outside and give back to the community is one incentive to recruit more to the program.

Inmate workers or “trustees” are generally low-risk inmates. In the video below, risk management expert and Lexipol co-founder Gordan Graham outlines effective management of inmate worker programs:

“It’s nice to get out and do some work instead of doing the things that we do in jail,” said inmate Timothy Duke , who volunteered in Burns on Monday. "... It’s been awhile since I’ve seen the sun.”

Duke has been in jail for around five months, and he said this has been his first opportunity to leave the facility and work outside. If he hadn’t been in Burns on Monday, he said he would have been doing laundry at the jail all day.

Manuelito Lovato, another inmate volunteering in Burns, works in the kitchen. He said this is the first opportunity he has had like this since he was booked into jail in October, and he hopes to continue to do similar volunteer work.

“Giving back to my community and cleaning up. ... I appreciate being given this opportunity to get out of the facility for the day,” he said.

Kozak said he hopes to continue to expand the program, and work with local organizations and nonprofits. One of his goals is to recruit enough inmates to volunteer to help remove and cover up some of the graffiti in Cheyenne and Laramie County .

For the mowing, weed eating, clearing of tumbleweeds and picking up garbage at the Burns Cemetery, the only thing LCSO asked of the town of Burns was that they cover the lunch for the inmates. On Monday, Burns Mayor Joe Nicholson provided the five inmates with a lunch from Subway.

Those with a project they think could benefit from the services of this program are encouraged to contact Deputy Eric Wiltanger at 307-633-4745.

The public will know when a work crew is in the area because large orange signs will be placed in the area which read, “SHERIFFS WORK CREW AHEAD.”


(c)2024 Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne, Wyo.)
Visit Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne, Wyo.) at
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.