Login NowClose 

Inmate litter crew does part to keep city clean

By LAUREN LANGLOIS staffwriter@hammondstar.com

Inmates at the Hammond city jail have the option to volunteer for a litter abatement crew to lessen their sentences while helping the city clean up trash and prevent overcrowding at the small jail.

The inmate litter crew has been around for many years in Hammond, according to Lt. Charles Deliberto, who took over the jail in 2015. The crew heads out in the morning hours, avoiding extreme weather temperatures or conditions, and cleans around the city, going wherever they are needed.

Since Tuesday, the crew has picked up 482 bags of garbage so far this year, based on figures from the city streets department. The group sees all kinds of trash, he said, including a plastic sink, shopping carts, car parts, broken lumber and tires.

"We pick up anything from bumpers from cars to cigarette butts," he said.

The jail holds people who are serving for misdemeanor crimes, such as traffic violations or theft. A correctional officer will take a group of inmates who have volunteered for litter detail, with shifts lasting four hours or so. Dressed in yellow vests, the crew can range from three people to sometimes as big as 10. They are given gloves, boots, pickup stick, bags and any other supplies needed.

In exchange, the inmates' sentences are shortened. They can also lessen the amount they owe to the jail, pending approval from the court. Each day of volunteer work can count for three days in the jail, Deliberto said.

"They get awarded for that," he said. "That also helps the city with the cleanup, plus it cuts down on the population of the jail."

Deliberto said the crew pick up litter in the areas that are judged in the annual Cleanest City contest run by the Louisiana Garden Club Federation. They have also helped clean up the city after natural disasters by clearing streets of debris. They make sandbags during emergencies too, he said.

Having inmates do litter detail or other chores is not unique to Hammond, as other agencies have similar setups, said Hammond Police Chief James Stewart. He said the police department is glad to help the city in its quest to battle unsightly litter.

"The inmates do a fine job," he said. "Whenever we can, we put out a litter crew."