ACSO starts supervised litter pickup using low-risk inmates



Sheriff David Soward and Jail Captain Martin Gonzales alongside a county road where trustees are picking up litter LEON ZABAVA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Sheriff David Soward and Jail Captain Martin Gonzales alongside a county road where trustees are picking up litter LEON ZABAVA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Atascosa County Sheriff David Soward has implemented a new program that focuses on litter pickup on Atascosa County roadways utilizing low-risk inmates. Sheriff Soward said the program was developed with an operational plan for security and safety of everybody involved. Only low-risk inmates, classified as trustees are allowed to volunteer for the program and will be highly supervised at all times when doing outside work.

Sheriff Soward said, “The trustees do work here in the building (County Jail) and sometimes outside work – but they have to be supervised, of course. We’re going to take two and sometimes three trustees out to roads in the county. Maybe a county road, it could be a farm-to-market road or it could be a highway where there seems to be a litter problem.” Sheriff Soward said that the trustees will go out anywhere from three to six hours on a stretch of road that has litter and clean it up. This is not just paper and cans but tires and everything they run across.

“What I figured we could do for the community to help out the county commissioners and also TxDot as well is to go out on occasions with these trustees and clean up this trash. All the inmates volunteer to do this and are not forced to – they want to get out and take in the sunshine, get out of the cell.”

Sheriff Soward said they have noticed in the past couple of years that the highway litter has picked up. He said that people are just throwing trash out and it is gathering on the roadways. “My office gets a lot of complaints about litter and there’s not much we can do unless we see someone throw trash out the windows. Then, certainly we can stop them and issue a citation,” said Sheriff Soward. “We do investigate a lot of trash dumps and we have solved a lot of cases in the past two or three years.”

We’ll start trying this program a couple of times a month and if we can push that up and do it more, we will. Sheriff Soward said they will select a road and that the trustees will never know in advance where they are going.

“I think it was successful last week and we received a ton of positive feedback from the public about this,” said Sheriff Soward, “We had it on my Facebook page and the reactions on it were more than any other post we ever had on that page. They were all one hundred percent positive. It’s a good thing. It’s a winwin for everybody and trustees are happy to get out of their cells and do a little work outside in the sunshine. We clean up a section of road. It’s a good thing.”

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