By: Sarah Snyder
MIDLAND COUNTY - They're picking up all that mess you see along the highways. For the past two years, Midland County inmates have helped clean up the streets and parks. It's an initiative not only keeping things clean but saving taxpayers big bucks.
Robed in black and white, they're picking up trash and rebuilding Midland parks.
"I didn't realize there was so much trash on the streets until I started this program," Captain Terrisa Candelaria, with the Midland County Sheriff's Department, said.
This month marks the two year anniversary of the Midland County Community Work Program. It's shrinking the number of people behind bars and giving non-violent offenders an opportunity to volunteer instead of spending time in jail - that means a big savings for taxpayers.
"The inmates average out $60 per day per inmate so the ones that aren't in jail, that saves $60 per day per inmate," Candelaria said.
"Keep Midland Beautiful is really excited the county has this inmate program," Catarina Nava, Litter Prevention Coordinator with Keep Midland Beautiful,, said. "It has helped us out tremendously in the past two years."
The workers hit the pavement Monday through Friday working all over town from streets and parks to county offices, museums, and the library, picking up about 1,200 bags of trash each month.
"There is a lot and it bothers me now because I just didn't see it before," Candelaria said. "There is a lot of trash and sometimes we have to go back two or three times in the same area to pick up trash."
"Before they started, there weren't that many areas getting clean," Nava said. "It was really difficult for us when those areas needed to get cleaned."
Instead of sitting in the lock-up, these offenders are spending their days in parks and streets and puts those deputies who would have been guarding them, back on patrol.
"It has been tremendous," Nava said. "They do all areas, they'll do 191, Loop 250, Highway 80, and if we at Keep Midland Beautiful have a special project going on, they are right there to help us."