Associated Press

Mississippi will expand a work release program for nonviolent inmates from one county to three counties.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed House Bill 586 on Friday, and it will become law July 1.

“Dignified work has the potential to offer new beginnings,” Reeves said Monday in a statement announcing his signing.

The Rankin County sheriff was already authorized to let inmates work outside the county jail during the final year of their sentences. The new law says the sheriffs in Harrison County and Lee County also can create a program.

The origin of the bill was to authorize Harrison County to establish a pilot work release program and extend the date of repeal on the Provision of Law that establishes program.

Each sheriff can choose up to 25 inmates to participate, and inmates choose whether to do so.

While working outside jail, each inmate can earn money and must have a bank account. They can use some of the money for “incidental expenses.”

Up to 25% of what they earn can help to pay fines, restitution, fees or support of dependents. They may keep using the accounts and any remaining money after they are released.