Cook County jail inmates cleaning animal shelter

August 1, 2011

The Associated Press

AP, Jeff Roberson
The program will save taxpayers money because staffing shortages often mean paying overtime to regular employees.

Cook County jail inmates are cleaning cages at an animal shelter on Chicago's West Side - the first time officials have allowed inmates to leave the jail to do such chores. 

Sixteen minimum-security inmates serving short jail sentences for non-violent charges will clean cages at the center. They are part of the Sheriff's Department's program that started Monday.

Officials say the program will save taxpayers money because staffing shortages often mean paying overtime to regular employees for the work.

The city will pay the sheriff's department about $231,000 a year to drive inmates and officers to and from the shelter.