Do your part to keep the community clean
The COVID pandemic has changed a lot about how we do things in this country. Some things will be changed forever. The usual way that we solve some problems or complete some tasks have changed, maybe for good.
At the Sheriff’s Office, we have changed and adapted many programs. One in particular is our inmate work program. St. John Parish has had the benefit of an inmate work program that provided services such as litter pick up, school painting, grass cutting, sand bagging and even set up and clean up at fairs and festivals and our annual Mardi Gras Parade.
However, the Coronavirus put the brakes on the use inmate labor usage for many months. Much in the same way that the governor sent out the “Stay at Home” order for all citizens, that meant that inmates must also be protected from the contagious virus. For many months, inmates were not allowed to leave the jail.
Litter pick-up was one of the main services that was notably missed.
We all know where the litter hot spots are throughout the parish. But recently, a few heavy rain storms caused the trash that is typically down in the ditches to rise with the water. When the water receded, the trash remained on the streets. This is where I got flooded with calls from other elected officials and citizens alike pleading for the inmates to clean up the trash on the streets. It was definitely not a pretty site on both sides of the river.
At this time, inmate labor is becoming scarce. One fact that most citizens are not aware of is that the inmates eligible for working outside of the confines of the jail are actually from the Louisiana Department of Corrections (DOC inmates). These inmates are from other parishes and are nearing the end of their sentences; therefore, they are typically not a flight risk when out on the roads. Currently, the number of DOC inmates at the Sherman Walker Correctional Facility is very low. This can be due to a number of reasons, including early release and the competition of privately owned jails.
Improvements in technology at SJSO has been a huge asset in helping us catch those who perform illegal dumping of things like sofas, tires, appliances, tires and construction trash. These offenses are and will continue to be the duty of our officers. So, please beware!
I recently penned a letter to local businesses and industry asking them to have their employees clean up around their business. We should not be waiting for any agency, organization or special day to keep our parish beautiful.
In summary, DO YOUR PART!
Mike Tregre is the elected sheriff of St. John the Baptist Parish. His office can be reached at 985-652-9513.