By Mike Kruzman /

Livingston County officials are supporting the decision to continue inmate educational services and hire a new Jail Educator.

Sheriff Mike Murphy made the request of the Public Safety and Infrastructure and Development Committee of the Livingston County Board of Commissioners, at their online meeting Monday. The jail’s current educator, Laura Ness, is resigning her position Thursday. The county made the jail educator a full time position a year and half ago, and in that time Murphy said they’ve probably graduated more inmates from GED classes than they had in the previous 5 or 6 years combined. Inmate Educational Services also offers opportunities with improving literacy, resume preparation, parenting skills, personal finance management and more.

Sheriff Murphy spoke further on the importance of having someone like Ness, whom he called “an absolute rock star” in that lead role to the committee. He said, “One of the things that helps us in the jail is when we have things for the inmates to do. It helps with recidivism, but it also has a calming effect on the inmates as well.” Murphy said to take a step backwards on this decision, especially during this time would be a bad move on their part.

Even though the county is in a hiring freeze, Murphy asked that an exception be made to fill this vacancy. One argument that helped his case was that the position isn’t funded from the general fund, but 100% from inmate driven commissary money. In a memo to Commissioners, Lt. Dan Adas wrote that the position is budgeted to cost $67,725. The Commissary Fund currently has a balance of $304,737.

The Committee approved the resolution to allow the Sheriff’s Office to fill the upcoming vacancy unanimously.