St. John Parish to add third inmate work crew

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 13, 2008


Staff Reporter

EDGARD – In an effort to further beautify and improve the aesthetics of St. John Parish while saving taxpayer money, the Parish Council has authorized the implementation of a third inmate work crew from the St. John Sheriff’s Office.

The proposal, introduced by St. John Chief Administrative Officer Pat McTopy at a recent Finance Committee meeting, was unanimously approved and will go into affect sometime in April, said Parish Public Information Officer Buddy Boe.

Boe said the main focus of the third crew would be to tackle the constant litter and debris problem plaguing the parish.

“Eliminating the litter problem will go a long way in helping to improve various drainage issues throughout the parish,” said Boe. “Litter and other debris ends up in culverts and canals, which lead to the pumping stations. It clogs the pumps and causes them to slow down and malfunction.”

Boe said the crew will work litter detail on the East Bank and West Bank of the parish, and will clear out and cut grass around the various culverts and ditches that aid in the flow of rain water out of parish roads and streets. The crew will also work on clearing the overgrowth of grass on sidewalks on both sides of the river.

“This has been a big source of complaints from residents, especially on the West Bank,” said Boe. “We want to keep the sidewalks clean so the parish can use them properly.”

According to parish budget numbers, the inmate crews cost the parish around $50,000 a year per crew. The crews, usually compiled of about six inmates, will work eight hours a day, five days a week. The work usually starts at 6 a.m., and ends at 2 p.m.

“If you add up the numbers, it’s a steal,” said Boe. “The parish is getting roughly 18 workers to do jobs the parish would normally contract out for the price of three parish employees. It is a very efficient use of taxpayer dollars.”

St. John Sheriff Wayne Jones said he had been in talks with Parish President Bill Hubard since January to add the third crew. He said the program benefits all parties involved.

“It gives good inmates the opportunity to get out and work, it makes the parish look better, and it saves money,” said Jones. “I applaud Mr. Hubbard’s efforts to work for the parish in an efficient manner.”

Jones said the Sheriff’s Office has strict requirements for the inmates working on the crew. He said he does not allow violent offenders, or inmates who have committed a crime against a person to work. He also said the inmate must have no more than two years left on his sentence.

Jones said this is the eighth year of the work project, and it has worked very well. Boe said the implementation of the crew would coincide with a parish-wide beautification project that will kick off in April.