By Alana Gomez, WBZ-TV

TEWKSBURY (CBS) – Middlesex County is putting their prisoners to work. Inmates from the House of Corrections are clearing off roofs and digging out hydrants in a cost-saving solution for several communities.

The program is for low level offenders that are pre-screened and put through rehab. All of the prisoners are near the end of their sentences.

The Middlesex County Sheriff says this will save the county a quarter of a million dollars this winter.

“During these very difficult financial times we’ve got frozen streets and frozen coffers,” said Sheriff Peter Koutoujian. “We’ve got a public safety need and we’ve got a public safety solution.”

WBZ-TV’s Alana Gomez reports.

One work service program raised concerns Friday, when a convict escaped in Boston during a bathroom break.

Koutoujian says his House of Corrections program has never had a problem.

“We’ve had seven to ten thousand inmates in the program and we’ve never had a single walk-away,” said Koutoujian. “They are never out of sight of a correctional officer.”

“I’m so short now that I wouldn’t want to pick up another case for walking off,” said Michael Kosowan, who cleared off a flat school roof in Tewksbury.

Kosowan is serving a two and half year sentence for breaking into a home and is supposed to get out in June.

“I was really messed up on drugs at the time,” said Kosowan. “I just wanna stay clean, work and it’s good to be out here working on the street get that good work ethic back.”

Kosowan has completed drug rehab programs and his GED while behind bars.

Comments (37)
  1. Fred Parziale says:

    Lefty kid stay up keep up the good work I couldn’t believe seeing u and the guys on the news my old celly doing big things kid what.

    1. walter12 says:

      Hey Leftist Boston, where is your hero that big, fat Al Gore?

  2. ERIC says:


  3. taxedout says:

    Why isn’t this practice done more??? Instead of all the state High priced help doing these kinds of jobs we should use these people more often!!!!There are Plenty of thing these people could do to save a buck…Use Em!!!!

    1. Matt Androoz says:

      Because it’s SLAVE LABOR. God forbid employees of the “State” get paid for what they ACTUALLY DO.

      1. Tennessee Bob says:

        Lets all think of that picture of 5 guys sitting watching one guy do something. So much for state employees!

    2. Maz says:

      The 13th Amendment specifically allows slavery as a punishment for crime.

      1. Matt Androoz says:

        Then it’s an issue of double jeopardy… They are already locked up, which, if I’m not mistaken, is the PUNISHMENT, for the crimes they committed.

    3. Big C says:

      I live in Arkansas and the sheriff in my county posts daily on his twitter account where the inmates from the county lock-up will be working each day. Sometimes they are sweeping the main streets, other times picking up trash on the interstate, etc.

      Inmate labor is good for tax payers.

    4. kendrick1 says:

      The bleeding hearts feel that making prisoners work is cruel and inhuman. We have to work and pay taxex to keep them from having to work!! Whatever’s fair; level playing field; equality!! We can’t cause them to lose their self esteem!!

  4. Dr. Bombay says:

    “Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains.” ~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau

    Most of the people in jail are there for victimless, non-violent assertions of crime. If you think this is a good idea, when the days comes that you are out there shoveling for having the wrong vegetation in your pocket you may have a different view.

    1. Ignoramous says:

      “Victimless” crimes, like smoking Marijuana? I wonder if the 30,000+ dead Mexican citizens who were murdered by the cartels would agree with you. Marijuana is the majority of their funding. And don’t blame American laws, since pot is illegal in Mexico too. You simply are funding an atrocity; birthday party massacres, beheadings, and unspeakable horrors. Maybe you should try staying lucid and clear-minded, instead of getting wasted at the expense of human dignity.

      1. Vance Fuller says:

        You are delusional … and by the way … that parroted old party propaganda stop working in the 1990’s.

        But please, keep telling who and what you are and who pays you.

      2. Brooks says:

        400,000 or more killed every year by prescription drugs.

        400,00 killed every year from cigarettes.

        40,000 killed in auto accidents, half alcohol related.

        Case closed Checkmate.

      3. andrew says:

        just because someone smokes weed doesn’t mean they smoke mexican schwag weed. ever heard of Humboldt, California??

    2. Chris Hauser says:

      Vance and Dr. Bombay obviously have indulged too much in their product. The crime associated with illegal drug (prescription and illegal) do rise with the presence of drug production (rival gangs) drug distribution (rival dealers) and drug use (paying for the habit). Your habit promotes crime and our tax dollars pay for it. Igoramus comments about the 30,000 dead in Mexico is just a start. There are people in the US that are dying too. Example is the two jetskiers that were fired on when they inadvertently stumbled into a narcolero’s area. And that is only one. There is a rise in crime with drugs. End of statement. It was true in the 80s, 90s, and today. It is not victimless.

  5. CLR says:

    Most Excellent!!

  6. pm says:

    there is something wrong with a system that boasts the highest rate of incarcration of the western world. As I drive down the streets of florida I see more police on patrol than any other state I have been in. People seem to believe that more police equals less crime.They forget that police don’t prevent crime, they investigste crime.

    1. Al says:

      The “system”. That all goes back to the ‘Great Society’ policies that took self determination away from people and gave them a public dole instead. When everyone is a victim then there is no moral justification to be otherwise, so people tend lose respect for their fellow man and self gratification takes over. With out a moral compass to guide it’s easy to offend and end up ‘in the system’.

  7. sean patriot says:

    I would rather see welfare recipients out there

    1. Ty Harris says:

      and unemployment recipients too.

    2. John Doski says:

      Much better idea. They are getting a living for being lazy. Make them work for the tax payer dollars they receive.

  8. Hank Warren says:

    No $ for snow removal but plenty of $ to support endless Wars for Israel, it all started nearly a decade ago under a false flag attack.
    9/11 and Israel, here:

    1. John Doski says:

      You are a jack a$$

  9. tevis says:

    While this sounds like a good idea in the cold reasoning of a blizzard winters eve, the state is actually made slaves out of many people convicted of victimless crimes, (sic.). If every protest, every act of nonconformity, every silly, or sorry behaviour is criminalized, given long sentences and pushed with zero tolerance, then all of you will soon be slaves of the state. either actively or passively. The use of prison labor to support themselves, ie. prison farms, etc. is fine and good. But using prison labor should be confined to the most violent, most aggravated cases, and should be used instead of 23hour solitary confinement, ie. supermax. But the coerced use of prison labor is equivalent to giving the state the power to enslave you. Beware when we go there. This nation’s zero tolerance nail em to the wall ideas about rehabilitation are responsible for our violent societies tendencies.

    1. Citizen says:

      I agree that the most violent offenders (who should be in solitary confinement) should be doing such work. I would love to have such a prisoner working outside my house clearing snow…
      Just because the inmates are doing work does NOT mean that we all are or will become slaves of the state… Slave labor is allowed by the 13th amendment, IF a person is CONVICTED of a crime. It reads: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
      I think that having these inmates doing the work is not a bad idea. It gives them a chance to do a form of work, and get them back in public to a degree, which many of them will soon be rejoining.

  10. Al says:

    In Louisiana there is a work release program wheree low level offenders can get out a start the process of getting there lives back in order instead of being dumped back into what is often the same enviroment which caused them to offend in the first place. A step before that with many prisons is an in house work program which can often mean being on a work detail out in the public, such as on a “road crew” or mowing public property. The’ve been used in sandbagging operations in emergencys and provide other services that save taxpayers money. These are good programs and it is rare that a problem will arise. An earlier poster described it as “slave labor” but it would do well to remember that on top of room and board and medical care given these prisoners most all of them were sentenced by the court to “hard labor”, which at one time meant pick and shovel construction work, or bust’n rocks.

  11. bubba says:

    The entire state of Massachusetts should be in chains for electing Barney Frank.

  12. Michael P Coleman says:

    what about all the welfare people who can lift a shovel ? clean the roads, ect. see how many people show up ? no show ! no pay ! prisinors ! use them !

  13. Trader Lu says:

    Most inmates get time off their sentence for this type of work and most usually volunteer.

  14. Papi says:

    Pay them MINIMUM wage and stop the insane controversy about slave labor. Jeez they use people for community service for minor infractions, why not use these JAIL BIRDS for community service as well?

  15. greg says:

    coming from an individual who just left the house of corrections that is being talked about…the community work program is not slave labor…its actually a luxury to be able to go out in the fresh air…with normal society…and do work…i agree with the individual kosowan that comments to the press…i was just with him and like him ive served my time but now have a better work ethic due to the program…keep em working its a help more than a harm

    1. Brian says:

      Greg you are right on the mark. Seeing how we did this together we understand just how much pride one puts in doing work for the community. It also at the end of the day brings ones spirits up and the ability to know that they contributed. This is a great program and helps sets one mind proper prior to there release. Good job guys and keep up the good work. One day closer.

  16. Donnie K says:

    Good !! Use theses guys, after all we are paying for THEIR room and board, healthcare and three squares a day to eat. About damm time and I would like to see more of this everywhere !!

  17. GG says:

    12.5 days of good time taken off your sentence……..judge sentences you to 6 months you get out after 4. what a joke….saves a million dollars but costs the state 75000 for one CO….30,000 a year for one CON…. 5 cons on a crew that 225000 per year…. 5 crews its over a million just to run this program…..How is this saving the state money……LOCK EM DOWN FOR THEIR whole sentence

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