County litter plan gets support

Published 7:55 pm Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sheriff Russell Thomas was pleased with the news that Pike County Commissioners were considering using Elba inmates on work release.

“Prisons are very overcrowded. and I’m glad to see the county commissioners taking advantage of that,” he said.

Commissioners Joey Jackson, Charlie Harris and Jimmy Barron formed a committee to research the issue and form a plan during the group’s meeting on Monday. Part of the plan may involve inmates on work release.

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Thomas had other ideas for tackling the litter issue, from investing in equipment that could sweep it up to seeking volunteers willing to adopt and maintain roadways.

One of his ideas was to change the way Pike County handles misdemeanor probation.

“Instead of just putting people on probation with no stipulations, why not put them on with community hours? They could do it through the road department,” Thomas said. “These people want to come and reinvent the wheel. We don’t need new, we just need common sense.”

Several counties in Alabama have community service programs. Madison County’s Office of Alternative Sentencing has programs that require educational programs and community service.

St. Clair County Juvenile Court collaborates with agencies like the United Way for its educational and community service programs.

Pike County Circuit Judge Shannon Clark uses Coffee County’s long-established community service program and would be willing to do the same in Pike County. “We try to incorporate community service when we can,” Clark said.

Judge Bill Hightower does occasionally assign community service. Right now, community service is not an option for all misdemeanors. “In doing misdemeanor cases, there’s not really anyone to oversee that. We don’t have probation officers who are available to do that. We have probation officers busy with filing cases.”