EUSTIS, Fla. — Normally volunteers are called upon to build homes for Habitat for Humanity, but there's a new program in Lake County that allows inmates to do the labor instead.

  • Lake County inmates for building homes for Habitat for Humanity
  • It's through the Sheriff's Office's 'Inmate Construction Academy'
  • Inmates get one day taken off sentence for every three days worked

Inmate Jared Hainey was convicted of possession, but today he possesses the ability to prepare for the future by learning how to construct homes side-by-side with professional home builders.

“(You’re) coming outside and being out in the community, seeing people and experiencing things to learn more toward a trade. And the freedom of being outside the jail is nice also,” Hainey said.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office calls the program the “Inmate Construction Academy”. It's for non-violent, low-level offenders. There are five inmates for every one deputy.

“Make sure their charges are low enough to work outside the building, and see if this is something that they can do,” said Deputy David Wolniak with the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

The project is to lay down a concrete foundation. Inmates get one day taken off their sentence for every three days worked. In return, Habitat for Humanity gets free labor to build a brand new house for a family in need.

“It's about learning and having opportunity after they get out of jail, as well as while they are in jail, giving back to the community,” said Danielle Stroud with Lake-Sumter Habitat for Humanity.

The new home is going up in a Eustis neighborhood. With private homes to the right, and a child daycare center to the left, there are obvious security concerns.

 “It's 100 percent secure. I believe in it. I believe in what Habitat for Humanity does, and I believe in what the sheriff's office is doing, and they're monitored all day,” said Kathy Woodward, a daycare center owner.

Because of the inmates working at this particular worksite, there has been one slight change — Habitat for Humanity will not be using regular volunteers.

Prison black and whites will be worn by workers until the home is completed.

Habitat for Humanity owns a second lot next to the worksite, and another home will be built there using inmate labor.