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Posted: 06/04/14


Above, District 7 County Commissioner Don Brown speaks with a group of inmates from the Macomb County Jail as they clean up trash along the service drive to M-53 north of 27 Mile Road. The Macomb County Sheriff's Office runs a program year-round where low-risk inmates, called trustees, are allowed to leave the jail under supervision and provide services like litter pickup.

(Observer photo by Chris Gray)

Inmates help clean
Washington Township

Observer Staff Writer
      It's a dirty job, but the Macomb County Sheriff's Office knows some people who are glad to do it.
       District 7 County Commissioner Don Brown coordinated efforts with the sheriff's office to have inmates clean sections along M-53 and Mound Road in Washington Township on May 29 and 30.
       "The taxpayers are paying for them to be in the jail, and why not get some use out of them and get them out here instead of sitting in the jail and doing nothing," Brown said.
       Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said the inmates, known as trustees, are offenders with non-violent sentences the sheriff's office identifies as low-risk for being outside of the jail. They are only used for projects involving non-profits or governments.
       "What is good about the program is that hopefully they can see that they've got some value in what they're doing and they're giving back to the community," he said.
       Wickersham said once a detail of trustees is available he contacts communities in the beginning of spring to see where the labor can be used. The inmates are transported and observed by a deputy at all times.
       "We've also had them taken as far as digging shrubs, planting trees, mulch in city parks," he said. "They jump onto the opportunity to get out of the jail and get back out."
       He said the "full-time" trustees perform other jobs and tasks within the jail, while others are approached for jobs like trash pickup. Wickersham said the program doesn't reduce their sentences.
       Brown said the inmates filled multiple bags with garbage during the two-day period, particularly along Mound Road north of West Road where no entity is solely responsible for cleaning that section of the road.
       "They almost filled up a dumpster full of garbage," he said.
       Brown has also requested the trustees to assist with cleaning and setting up the grounds for the Art and Orchard Festival, set for June 13-15 at the Washington Township Municipal Building on Van Dyke.
       "They've done it every year as long as I've been involved with the Washington Lions Club," Brown said. "The Lions welcome those extra volunteers -- eight people coming out to help do the work makes a big difference for volunteer organizations that are already stressed."
       Washington Township Supervisor Dan O'Leary expressed his gratitude for Wickersham and Brown's efforts to help clean up the township.
       "They're good about it every year and offer help every year," he said.

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