Georgia Department of Corrections
Brian Owens, Commissioner
Director of Public Affairs
Contact: Office of Public Affairs (478) 992-5248
STATE OF GEORGIA
For Immediate Release
Forsyth – Governor Nathan Deal along with the Department of Labor, Department of Agriculture and Department of Corrections joined forces to find a way to assist with the Georgia farm labor shortage.
A study was conducted by Mark Butler, Commissioner of the Department of Labor with the help of Gary Black, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture. The results confirm that Georgia farmers are in desperate need to fill as many as 11,080 jobs. Governor Deal requested the help of both DOA Commissioner Black and the Department of Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens to find a solution.
From those conversations, a pilot program has been constructed to provide three interested counties in South Georgia with able-bodied probationers to help with labor they are currently lacking. The program, starting in Echols, Sumter and Colquitt counties, will provide opportunities for seasonal work to probationers and will provide labor to Georgia farmers.
The Department of Corrections supervises 8,000 probationers in South Georgia, 25 percent of which are unemployed. DOC Commissioner Owens offered the solution of matching these 2,000 unemployed probationers with South Georgia farmers in need of field labor.
Probationers are non-violent offenders who are given an alternative sentence to imprisonment. As a general condition of probation, a probationer is required to work. Low-risk, non-violent probationers are being provided with information on the new farming program by their Probation Officers. These officers are responsible for ensuring probationers are successful and ensuring the order of the court is carried out. The decision to take advantage of this employment opportunity is the probationers.
Farming is the foundation of the state’s economic well-being. In the state of Georgia, Agriculture remains the largest industry by generating more than $5.1 billion per year in cash receipts to the state’s economy, according to the Department of Agriculture. The Department of Corrections is committed to the success of the state of Georgia and its citizens.
The Department of Corrections is the fifth largest prison system in the United States and is responsible for supervising nearly 60,000 state prisoners and over 150,000 probationers. It is the largest law enforcement agency in the state with approximately 13,000 employees.