/Inmates work to keep roads clean

Inmates work to keep roads clean

Dick Hall, Transportation Commissioner said that it makes some highways look like trash cans. Nearly $3.2 million is spent by the Mississippi Department of Transportation on programs to reduce litter on state highways. In conjunction with projects like the Trash Bash and Adopt-a-Highway/Interchange and litter education programs, the state relies on the labor of imprisoned people to clean the roads. Hall stated that MDOT’s partnership in litter removal with Mississippi Sheriffs Offices has been very helpful and well received by the general public. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.” The Inmate Litter Removal Program, a partnership between Mississippi Transportation Commission and a local sheriff’s or city’s police department, is an initiative that aims to remove litter from the streets. Connie McMullan (a state anti-litter coordinator) said that inmates are taken out to pick up state right-of way. “Don’t trash Mississippi.” That’s our motto. We need people who are responsible enough to keep our roads and water clean. 83 percent of Mississippi’s 82 counties participate in the Inmate Litter Removal Program. The memorandum of agreement is required for counties to be admitted to the program. MDOT funds a deputy to supervise, trash bags for incarcerated persons, and “workers ahead” signs. The agency also sells a used vehicle to the participating sheriff’s departments for $1. Each sheriff’s office determines which charges are ineligible for participation. However, Sheriff Jackie Knight from Newton County stated that participants are usually only those who have been incarcerated for nonviolent offenses. Knight explained that inmates must write a letter stating their desire to join the crew and then sign a release form. They can’t be part of it if they don’t want to. Most people would prefer to be outside than in jail cells.” Ron Welch is a prison lawyer and labor programs offer an unusual deal for prisoners. “I’m sure there will be arguments against this program. These guys are being paid, even though you shouldn’t work as prisoners. They get paid in days, which is a reduction of their sentences. They’re getting paid in days off their sentence.