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Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS)

Convict Labor

Reference Number: MTAS-2056
Reviewed Date: 08/29/2023

Municipal offenders confined or subject to confinement in a county or municipal jail may be sentenced to public service work for the municipality. The statute exonerates the municipality, its officers and its employees from liability to the offender, his or her family, or other persons for acts of the offender if the municipality exercised due care in supervising the offender. T.C.A. § 41-3-107(b).

A city also may apply to the state Department of Corrections district work project coordinator for probationer labor for a specific work project. There is no liability for injury to a probationer so involved if due care was taken in his protection and supervision. T.C.A. §§ 41-9-104. A city also may apply to the county community work project coordinator for county probationer labor on specific projects. T.C.A. § 41-9-202(a).

Under another statute, a city may apply to the commissioner of corrections to use convicts on public works projects, which the commissioner may allow if required conditions are met and the governor approves. T.C.A. § 41-22-127(b). A city’s chief executive and the sheriff may make agreements for the city to use certain prisoners under city supervision "for such duties and manual labor as the municipality deems appropriate. Convicts also may renovate substandard housing for low-income people. T.C.A. § 41-22-129(a).

A juvenile court may order a child who is found delinquent to perform community service work for a municipality. T.C.A. § 37-1-131(a)(7) exonerates the municipality and its officers and employees from liability resulting from the juvenile’s work if the municipality exercised due care in supervising the juvenile.