Good Question: No inmates for trash cleanup?

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ROCHESTER N.Y. (WHEC) — Let’s answer a good question about trash.

We’ve got a lot of feedback over the past week talking about cleaning up all the litter covering the Inner Loop and other roads.
Many of you have the same thought when it comes to trash pick-up.

Here’s one comment:

  • "What happened to all the weekend jail prisoner cleanup crews?"

Here’s one email:

  • "Whatever happened to work details with armed guards to watch non-violent inmates clean up the highways? It saves the taxpayers money I would think, so city crews could concentrate on the major cleanups."

Good questions. Each year during the mass blitz of trash clean up some 8,000 to 9,000 bags of litter get picked up and hauled away from roads statewide.

It’s a massive effort and takes a combination of different groups helping, Department of Transportation crews, Adopt A Highway groups, volunteers, and yes — people doing time behind bars.

In years past, inmates picked up the most, usually going out on weekends. So what about this year? Not happening, at least not now.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s office says the program is suspended indefinitely. Why?

Deputies point to the pandemic and bail reform. There are just not as many people sentenced locally and that’s where the pool for trash pick-up comes from.

"The outside work program where inmates go out and pick up trash along the highways has been suspended indefinitely,” wrote the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. “This is a byproduct of bail reform as we are not seeing an uptick in prisoners being sentenced locally, which is where we would draw the participants from. Also, the lingering effects of COVID have contributed to the program being suspended."

Now the trash cleanup will still go on this year. Crews will close the inner loop on Earth Day, Friday, April 22. The city’s department of environmental services is teaming up with the state DOT to make it happen.

Also coming up next month, the first clean sweep of the year in Rochester on May 7. Volunteers will get a free ticket to that day’s Red Wings game. They’ll also get a voucher for free food and drinks.