Massachusetts sheriff wants to send inmates to Texas to help rebuild Houston

Energy officials work to restore power after a tree fell across power lines in Lake Charles, La., Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. (Rick Hickman/American Press via AP)

TAUNTON, Mass. (NBC NEWS) - A Massachusetts sheriff is making a pitch to send prisoners to Texas to help Harvey victims.

"We've already heard that there's not going to be enough carpenters to help rebuild Houston," Sheriff Tom Hodgson of Bristol County, Massachusetts said. "So why not have inmates who want to take advantage of the opportunity in a rehabilitative setting to go there?"

A state representative who is the Vice Chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security says the sheriff's done some good work but this idea is ridiculous.

"This has to rank with up there with the first and second most ridiculous suggestions," said Rep. Alan Silvia. "The first being sending the inmates to the Mexican border to build a wall. I can't event believe that he would think that one single inmate would travel from the commonwealth to Texas."

"The inmates that would be participating in this program would be inmates that are in prerelease status getting ready to re-enter into their own communities," the sheriff said. "They would have a strict criteria. Not having any active warrants, no problems inside the prison."

Massachusetts state law doesn't allow inmates to be sent to work anywhere outside of New England.

A bill that could change that is working its way through the legislature, but those opposed say it likely won't pass.

The sheriff's proposal would need approval from FEMA, the National Sheriff's Association, sheriffs involved and Governor Charlie Baker's office.

Inmates would volunteer for the work none would be forced to go.