Program has inmates working feet away from tourists in Daytona Beach

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Daytona Beach promotes itself as a family-friendly tourist area but Channel 9 learned inmates being used for work along the busy stretch of A1A are only feet away from civilians at times.

Channel 9's Myrt Price was in Daytona Beach on Thursday and saw inmates from Tomoka Correctional Institution working in the middle of the tourist area along A1A, less than a block from the beach.

And we had no trouble finding people who think these convicts are out of place.

"To me it's just a disgrace, and they don't need to put them over there where they're at," said resident John Gokey. "There are so many other places where they could put them at."

The city manager said the men are nonviolent offenders who have done similar work for years. He said they're closely supervised, and there have never been any issues.

He added that the inmate work saves taxpayers as much as $300,000 a year.

A few tourists told Channel 9 they feel the inmate work program makes sense.

"As long as they are supervised I would rather they be out working instead of sucking up taxpayer dollars," said tourist Beth Hickey.

"They need to be working instead of sitting down inside and watching TV and lifting weights and enjoying life," said tourist Selina Llewellyn.

Still, others said this scene doesn't fit with the family-friendly message Daytona Beach is promoting nationwide.

Officials say they haven't gotten any complaints about the inmate work crews.