Ga. parole violators may help taxpayers by picking up litter

ATLANTA -- Having ex-convicts who commit minor parole violations pick up litter along state highways saves taxpayers two ways.

The departments of transportation and corrections announced last week the expansion of a test to work together to solve budget cuts each is facing.

The Transportation Department was struggling to find money for mowing and litter collection. At the same time, sending parole violators back to prison costs money the Corrections Department couldn’t spare. Inmates behind bars cost taxpayers $49 per day while those on parole cost just $4.43.

So, Corrections officials are pleased to have another form of punishment for small infractions like flunking a drug test without having to resort to ordering re-incarceration, which can sting taxpayers almost as much as the violator.

“Intermediate sanctions are usually very successful and often result in supervision requirements being met and maintained,” said Jay Lacienski, Corrections’ director of field operations.

The two departments experimented with the idea in Milledgeville, Gainesville, Columbus and Dalton. Now, they’re rolling it out statewide.

In addition to saving a little cash, Georgians should wind up with nicer roadways, too.

“It costs the department millions of dollars every year to pick up litter along Georgia’s 20,000 miles of state and federal roads,” said Eric Pitts, Transportation’s state maintenance engineer. “And frankly, we don’t have enough funding or manpower to do the job as well as we would like. The parolees’ help is invaluable”