Deputies contract inmates to renovate Davis County jail, save thousands

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FARMINGTON — Most of us take for granted how relaxing wall painting can be. When you're locked up 24 hours a day inside the Davis County Jail, it no longer becomes a chore.

"(It's) almost a form of meditation, you know?" inmate Jessy Spruell said. "When you're working with your hands and you're not focused on the everyday monotony of incarceration, you get to think about the things you've done wrong and the things you can change in life."

Spruell is one of seven inmates hand-picked by staff at the jail to help renovate cell blocks in the older wing of the building. Each of them spend their days painting and sanding, while enjoying some additional perks as a reward for good behavior.

"To them, it's a big deal," project foreman Bracken Ricketts explained. "Anything from a personal radio to a TV on the ground."

A member of the maintenance staff, Ricketts says the selected inmates are part of an effort to save about $400,000. The project involves removing the older vinyl floor that required regular waxing and using fewer paint colors.

"We were buying three, four, five different colors of paint and different sheens," Ricketts said. "How we have it right now, everything's the same color, the same sheen. When we do touch up, we're not having to touch up a whole unit."

Each of the recruited inmates say they jumped at the chance to help.

"I think this is more of a rehabilitative thing than sitting around, wasting your time," inmate Jeffery Lake said. "There's a lot of things you can learn; sanding, painting, resculpting, reforming edges."

"Throughout the process, we've really taken our time and put a lot of pride into it," Spruell said, explaining that otherwise, he might have too much time alone in his thoughts. "These walls are empty. They're dark."

Spruell says he's seen the inside of a jail cell more often than he'd like to admit. Drug addiction and theft have brought him through the system several times, but he has not given up on hope. He says work on improving the jail has helped him reflect on his life and look forward to the future.

"I've had the opportunity to really dig deep, which I've never really done, and focus on who I am as a person," Spruell said. "I want to find light in normal routines in life."


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