The Blount County Commission at its business meeting Oct. 9 approved a Sheriff’s Department proposal for a county-wide Roadside Trash Detail (RTD) made up of non-violent inmates selected by corrections officers as having a desire to reform. Inmates have performed trash pickup on an occasional basis on county roads in the past. This proposal would make it systematic and on-going.
According to the proposal, the program would work as follows:
• Each district commissioner would allot an amount of money to the program – $5,000 apiece per year, according to the example given – to pay for supervision of inmates by corrections officers.
• Corrections officers will be paid $20 per hour.
• An administrator for the RTD will be selected by jail administrator Ron Adkins, with approval of county administrator John Bullard. The RTD administrator will be paid for two eight-hour shifts per month to manage the program.
• Based on the funds allotted by the commission, a minimum number of shifts will be authorized. The example above would allow for 125 shifts per year.
• Eight-hour shifts would be scheduled during normal daylight hours, six days per week, subject to weather conditions, with no more than two two-man crews working at one time.
• Each commissioner will choose in priority order five of his roads most needing trash pickup attention.
• The RTD will work the roads in numerical order by district, starting with District 1, with each district’s first priority road worked first, then reverting back to the next priority road in numerical order by district.
• A corrections officer will accompany each RTD inmate team. Inmates will be issued proper protective gear and tools needed for the cleanup job.
• After each shift, the debris collected will be disposed of at the county dump.
Public benefits of the program cited during commission discussion included (1) fewer public complaints about trash-ridden roadsides, (2) freeing up commission road crews – who may occasionally work roadside trash cleanup – to work on road maintenance issues, and (3) a cleaner, more sanitary, and more esthetically pleasing environment.
Individual benefits include providing supplemental income for corrections officers, and gainful employment for inmates who qualify, providing them both individual benefits (spending money) and public benefits (money to pay fines and help cover costs of incarceration.)