83 Maricopa County jail inmates removed from work furlough; program helps with re-entry, jobs

Posted at 12:14 PM, Jun 20, 2018

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone says 83 jail inmates have been removed from the work furlough program over drug issues.

At a news conference Tuesday, Penzone said 72 inmates tested positive for drugs when they were randomly tested after work.

He says 11 other inmates were removed from the program for refusing a drug test.

The program allows more than 200 inmates to leave the jail for up to 12 hours a day to go to their jobs and retain their employment.

The male and female work furlough inmates are housed at the Durango Jail.

Penzone says 177 were drug tested last Thursday and a large number of the inmates tested positive for meth or opioids.

He says the numbers are unacceptable and the work furlough program is being re-evaluated.

Second chances in the workforce

Nineteen thousand inmates are released from Arizona prisons each year - many who search for jobs after their time behind bars. 

Under Governor Doug Ducey's leadership, Arizona has been working to give inmates second chances with Second Chance Centers. In the programs, corrections professionals and workforce specialists work with inmates nearing their release dates for 10 weeks. During that time, inmates prepare for release with career and life skills that will help them succeed after prison. 

On Wednesday, employers attended an event in downtown Phoenix to learn about the benefits of employing job-seekers with a bit of a history. 

The Arizona Department of Corrections says securing a job is one of the first and most critical steps for inmates looking to re-enter society.