Work Release Program Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Helping Cullman Community

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CULLMAN – The Cullman County Sheriff’s Office hosted a celebration for the 10 year anniversary of the Work Release Program this past Wednesday. Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry expressed his gratitude to Sergeant Hadley, Mr. Brock and Mr. Whaley for their hard work for the program. If it weren’t for their blood, sweat and tears throughout the last 10 years, this program would not be what it is today. 

Program Director Sergeant Eulaylon Hadley explained the mechanics of the program, “Inmates who are on better behavior start out working in the jail. If they do well on the inside work, then they go out and do some free labor for townships and different events. If they are successful in that, then they get to move up into the Work Release Program,” she smiled as she continued. 

“It helps them when they get out. Hopefully, they’ve got a job and can keep their job when they get out. A portion of their salaries they get are put into a savings account, which they can draw from each month. So they have a chance to start a better life. We want them to learn some job skills, get a good job, get out and have enough money to get them started. It helps everybody really. Our employers rely on them and we can guarantee to have them laborers every day. It is really a win-win situation.”

Sergeant Hadley has clearly seen the fruits of her labors and is genuinely excited for all that the program has accomplished. 

Honorable District Judge Kim Chaney explained exactly what the program has accomplished, “The defendants have an opportunity to learn, support their family, and pay their fines and restitution. It pays child support and keeps their family off welfare. It helps the inmate and his family. We utilize the Work Release Program all the time. The great thing about it is while they’re here we can address addiction issues, anger management issues or education issues. When we address these issues that will help them make that transition to home.” Changing a person’s life from a criminal to an upstanding citizen is not easy, but that is exactly what this program hopes to accomplish.

A key component to this program is Sheriff Matt Gentry and his office.

The Sheriff expounded on the importance of it: “One of the most important things for me in this program is we, as law enforcement, are able to ensure that victims are not continued to be victims; we’re making sure they are getting their restitution and the money that is owed to them by ‘criminal offenders’. Programs like this provide law enforcement a way we can ensure that they are paying the money back to the victims and our community. So it gives these inmates some pride, it teaches them life skills so when they leave, they can pay the victims of this society and get a fresh start financially and have some direction in their lives, which a lot of times keeps them from being repeat offenders and that’s very important to us. One of the greatest impacts we’ve seen is it has reduced the amount of people coming to the jail.” 

An inmate who is currently in the Work Release Program discussed his thoughts about it.

Michael Austin claimed, “It’s impacted me for the good, pays toward my fines and my restitution, it also has IOP night classes we can attend to help us recover.” 

Austin also said having the opportunity to go to church on Sundays helped him integrate back into society easier. 

This is a self-sufficient program and all salaries are paid through the Work Release Program, which means taxpayers’ dollars are not being spent.

With this program victims receive restitution, inmates get a second chance at life, and employers are supplied with labor.