Guilford County, NC -- It's a question we've gotten a few times recently. Viewers called or emailed to ask, "Is the Guilford County Prison farm closing?"
To get the answer, we went straight to the source.
"The prison farm is operating, will continue to operate, gonna continue to operate as a prison farm," says Sheriff BJ Barnes, "but we have to change the way we do business."
Right now, prison farm inmates live and work on the farm. What Sheriff Barnes wants to do is move all those inmates to the jail in Greensboro.
They'll eat and sleep at the jail, which means the county won't have to pay for kitchen staff, medical staff or 24 guards at the farm. They'll be bused to the farm each day.
That change could mean a savings of $40,000. Not a huge amount when it comes to the Sheriff's total budget of $62.9 million, but it will allow for a savings of manhours and allow more mental health and drug addiction programs at the the jail.
The Sheriff says the programs at the prison farm are important and will never go away, even if the land is sold someday. He says teaching inmates a skill or two is good for all of us.
"If they get out and dont have a job, they're gonna go back to doing what they were doing. Breaking ino your house and mine, selling drugs, doing the things that got them into trouble. They're not going to be a contributor to society. Thats why we need to change their attitutes and they way that they're operating."
The prison farm has a budget of $3.9 million. Guilford County says the farm brings in $240,000 every year in direct sales and another $500,000 in work the inmates do.