Carbon County currently has 189 inmates housed in its prison.

Of that total, only four inmates currently have full-time jobs through the work release program.

On Wednesday, Frank Shubeck, the prison's work release/treatment director, told the county prison board that current employment trends may be the reason more inmates who are eligible for work release have not had luck finding full-time employment while serving their sentence.

"The numbers are down right now," he said, adding that he is in the process of calling area businesses to see if they are hiring.

Currently, there are a half dozen inmates eligible for the program who do not have employment.

Shubeck said that inmates in the program who are unemployed are used by the prison to do some tasks around the facility and clearing trees in the area of the new firing range.

"They help us with maintenance work, but if we can get them full-time employment, it certainly would be a big benefit to the county," he said.

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein asked if sentencing was the issue.

"Should more be eligible?" he asked.

Shubeck said that reasons for the low eligibility are either that the prisoners just don't qualify for the program, have had misconduct while out on the job or within the prison and are taken off the program, or they came in unemployed or were fired once they were sentenced.

"Most importantly though," Shubeck said, "is that the jobs that used to be there just aren't as plentiful today."

He said that if a person is incarcerated, he will call the employer to see if employment is still available, and most of the time now, it is not.

"There is no desire to bring that person back lately," Shubeck said. "It's far and few between anymore that a person comes in with employment and keeps it.

"It could be economy-related or just the perception of the employer, but all these things affect work release."