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Inmate clean-up crew takes aim at west bank

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / June 10, 1998

WALLACE – It was early hours Monday for most of the St. John Parishinmates, 57 in all, lined up military-fashion near the Wallace fire station.

Nevertheless, with orders snapped by deputies, the inmates showed discipline and attentiveness.

Sheriff Wayne L. Jones was also there, in the shadow of the VeteransMemorial Bridge, watching as the first clean-up crew to hit the west bank prepared to clean up River Road, end to end, from St. James to St. Charlesparishes.

Sgt. Ernest Martin, called “sergeant-major” for his military commandpresence, brought the young men to the buses and each boarded, double- time, in perfect order.

One squad was transported by bus to the St. Charles Parish line near Lucy.The other squad was taken to the St. James Parish line in Vacherie, andthe two squads began working back toward each other, picking up roadside trash.

For much of the morning, radio traffic on the sheriff’s channel was dominated by calls for more trash bags as the squads quickly and efficiency cleaned up, closely supervised by deputies.

“This is a very good program,” Parish Councilman Perry Bailey commented.

“They can give something back to the taxpayers. It’s also a big savings toget this workforce out there and a big help to the budget.”School Board Member Leroy Mitchell also applauded the effort.

The cleanup will continue all this week and, Jones added, “Next week, we’ll start cutting grass.”This is the latest wrinkle in Jones’s inmate work program which for several months has targeted major intersections and sections of state highways on the east bank of St. John Parish.Until now, though, the program had not yet been brought to the west bank.

All participants are serving time for non-violent offenses and have from 10 months to two years remaining in their sentences.

Besides the work program, Jones’s efforts at rehabilitation also include educational programs, including a General Equivalency Diploma program, and religion classes.

“We have a 12-step program, teaching basic learning skills,” Jones commented.

Other inmates have assisted in repairs and renovations to various parish facilities, from the Edgard Council on Aging center expansion to work at the animal shelter and the St. John Theatre.”It’s a definite plus, having the sheriff’s office and the government working together,” Bailey said.

Photo: Jail inmates from St. John Parish started picking up trash along RiverRoad Monday, and they’ll finish the job today. This is part of Sheriff WayneL. Jones boot camp program. The first group continues the program throughAug. 26. “We’ll try to have a major project like this every three or fourmonths,” Jones said. (Staff Photo by Leonard Gray)

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