Region 8 prisoners do trash pick-up

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) –The Lawrence County Sheriff's Department has started a new program involving some of their inmates.  Three prisoners at a time are spending their days along the side of the road picking up trash. 

"They're out here working hard.  They're excited to just get out of the jail cell.  You sit in there all day long," said Lawrence County Sheriff Jody Dotson.

Sheriff Dotson said this is a win-win situation.

"Everyday they work they get an extra day taken off their sentence so it's basically a two for one," said Dotson.

Dotson said if someone is sentenced to 90 days in jail and they work half of their days they will only serve 45.

"It runs about $35 a day to keep somebody in jail so we've cut the jail bill in half for that person,' said Dotson.

"I think it's a very good idea.  I think it's good for the county.  I think it's good for the prisoners to be able to get out," said resident Carolyn Propst.

Residents we talked with say they don't worry about the men who would otherwise be behind bars having this small amount of freedom.

"If it's made clear that these are non-violent offenders.  We have a lot of non-violent offenders that don't need to be sitting in that jail doing nothing," said Propst.

The men are supervised while they work.

"We're going to really review their records very well before we allow them to come out and work.  It will only be guys who aren't violent offenders who aren't flight risks," said Dotson.

The evidence of the work they are doing is all around.  Orange bags filled with litter dot the side of the road.

The state highway department provides the orange bags and safety vests that the prisoners wear.  A truck comes by at night and picks up the bags the inmates have filled during the day.

Dotson said even though they're only in the first couple of days of the program he already has plans to grow.

"Hopefully we will hit some of the main roads eventually plan to go to some of the small communities here in the county," said Dotson.

Sheriff Dotson said they've had the inmates sign waivers that allows them to get out of their cells and help with the clean-up but also protects the county legally.

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