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Ascension Parish adopts permanent inmate clean-up program

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GONZALES - Ascension Parish is looking to those behind bars for help with cleaning up the community. Starting Tuesday, inmates will be walking the streets, picking up trash.

"It's really disappointing that we still have so many people littering in Ascension Parish,” said Chief Deputy Bobby Webre.

Drive down any major highway or parish road, Webre says you'll spot trash.

“You don't want to see all that litter in the ditches,” he said.

Something the department does want to see is that litter picked up. As part of a parish-wide clean-up effort, Keep Ascension Beautiful, the sheriff’s office is turning to inmates to do this job.

“We have some of our inmates who are sitting at the parish jail who can get out and work and pick up litter throughout the parish,” said Webre.

The inmates are hand-picked, qualifying as non-violent.

“But, I will tell you, most of the inmates would volunteer to get out of the jail cells and do something meaningful,” Webre said.

With trash bags and grabbers, the group focuses on major highways and roads with drainage ditches that flow into larger canals. Filling up a bag happens quickly, and was proven effective when the sheriff's office launched the Inmate Litter Pilot Program in April.

"We took Airline from the Baton Rouge Parish line into Gonzales, and we picked up 700 bags of trash and litter,” Webre said.

More than 700 bags is just the start of the cleanup, as the program has now become permanent in the parish. Inmates will be out four days a week, weather permitting.

“For an indefinite amount of time were going to continue to roll with it,” Webre added.

The program does require one employee from the sheriff's office and one parish employee to watch over the clean-up.

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