UPDATED 08/01/11 12:34 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Inmates at the Cook County Jail are taking on some new responsibilities, in the form of cleaning cages at an animal shelter.

The program, initiated by county Sheriff Tom Dart, started Monday morning.

Sixteen minimum security inmates will clean cages at the David R. Lee Animal Care Center, 2741 S. Western Ave., for pay of a little under $1 per hour – or a total of $4 per day.

Inmates will be brought to the shelter seven days a week and 365 days a year. They will clean hundreds of kennels in the dog pound.

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“We need to get them to go out there and earn their keep, and try to contribute back our community,” Dart said.

The county says their rate of pay is double the standard rate that County Jail inmate workers usually receive. The inmates can use the money to buy items from the jail commissary, such as snacksa and toiletries.

The inmates selected for the program are serving short sentences at the jail for not-violent charges, most of them traffic-related, according to the blog for the county.

All inmates will be supervised by correctional officers throughout the process. They will get on a bus to the animal shelter, and will all be searched before returning to their jail cells, according to the county.

The inmates will wear their orange prison jumpsuits while working. Their work will take place at hours when the facility is closed to the public, according to the county.

The City of Chicago, which operates the facility, will pay the county sheriff’s office $231,059 per year for the program, according to the county.

But city Animal Care and Control executive director Cherie Travis figures the city will still save money by forking out less in overtime pay.

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