Chicago sheriff puts inmates to work demolishing abandoned buildings


(FOX News) - A Chicago sheriff has a new ally in the battle to rid the city of abandoned properties that attract squatters, drugs and crime: prison inmates.

Everyone wins, according to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who says local communities get rid of eyesores, inmates learn legitimate demolition skills and taxpayers don't get stuck with the bill.

“They always have been magnets for crime,” Dart told Fox News as he oversaw one of his crews in action. “We’re going to another house a few blocks away where a young girl was raped just a short time ago."

Unlike the chain gangs of old or the roadside cleanup crews, the inmates in Cook County come away with job skills that can help them earn an honest living on the outside. They are required to get safety training and get certified by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, which is a benefit in getting hired after release. Whenever possible, jail administrators also try to connect participants with jobs.

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