MANSFIELD — Scott Basquin looks at a new prison inmate program to help clean the state’s highways as a win-win situation.
“It helps the community, but it helps the offender also,” said Basquin, a spokesman for Mansfield Correctional Institution. “It reduces idleness and provides a job for them in the spirit of community.”
A joint program between the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction kicked off recently. The initiative uses inmates from MANCI and Grafton Correctional Institution to pick up litter and save money.
ODOT spends nearly $4 million and uses more than 206,000 man hours annually to remove litter.
“Litter is a totally preventable problem that wastes taxpayers’ dollars. This new program will allow ODOT to focus on its primary goal of maintaining Ohio’s transportation system,” ODOT Director Jerry Wray said. “We are excited to have the help of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and look forward to working with them to keep Ohio’s roads clean and litter-free.”
To start, five MANCI inmates are helping pick up litter on Ohio 13, Interstate 71 and U.S. 30 to the county boundaries. A full crew would be 10.
The inmates are low-security offenders whose crimes were not violent or sexual in nature.
“They’re all screened,” Basquin said. “They are recommended by the institution and approved through our (central office) in Columbus.”
While they are picking up litter, the inmates will be supervised by ODRC security staff and will be clearly identifiable to the public. The Richland County Sheriff’s Office and the Ohio Highway Patrol’s Mansfield post will be notified where the inmates will be each weekday.
The pilot program will continue through June 30, 2013. MANCI and Grafton are the first prisons in the state to participate, but others may do so in the future.
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