FORD HEIGHTS, Ill. (CBS) — Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is attempting to tackle a major problem, using jail inmates as laborers.

WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports a dozen inmates were working to tear down an abandoned home in Ford Heights on Friday, on a street full of vacant houses.

Inmates in the jail’s boot camp program have been enlisted to do a dirty job at no cost to the taxpayers.

“It’s government actually using its brain once in a while to say, ‘Listen, let’s help fix things, let’s not cost more money, let’s not be sucking more taxpayer money, but let’s do something smart,” Dart said.

The inmates don’t have any choice but to participate, but Dart said they get something out of it.

“We’re teaching a skill to the inmates who are involved with it, where they now are going to learn something that they can translate when they get out of here, because believe it or not, this is a skill that translates very well into the world once people leave a jail or a prison system,” he said.

The sheriff’s goal is to knock down 100 abandoned homes using inmate laborers over the next year or so.

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