Inmates inside deputy costumes at county fair raise concerns

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Inmates are used to staff inflatable mascot deputies at the Ft Bend County Fair

There are two new additions at this year's Fort Bend County Fair that are raising some eyebrows.

The two deputy mascots at the entrance gates are inflatable suits worn by convicted felons.

"I felt that there was something wrong," said Scott E Berrett. "Anytime you've got a family atmosphere and you've got people who've been behind bars coming into this free environment, you may have problems."

The men in suits are trusties, or working inmates. The Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office identified them as Henry Ester and Richard Moore. Moore was convicted of forgery in Fort Bend County; Ester is behind bars on a burglary conviction. Both men have criminal records in Harris County. Ester's background includes evading arrest and escape charges.

"I'm super torn about it," said fair visitor Tiffany Kenerly. "I wouldn't want them around my kids."

Trusties can generally work outside jail because they've exhibited solid behavior in jail. Sometimes, they mow lawns or work as janitors. They're always escorted by a sheriff's deputy.

"Everybody deserves a chance," said Sharron Scott. "Hopefully... those people are being rehabilitated. As long as they are being supervised at all times, I'm OK with it."

In a statement to KTRK-TV Houston, Vickie Todd Autrey, President of the Fair, said, "In regards to the mascots provided by the Sheriff's office, we entrust the security of the Fort Bend County Fair to the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office."

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