Cleaner streets are also making for shorter jail sentences for inmates taking part in a new Blount County Sheriff’s Office initiative.

Begun in early June, BCSO’s new litter crew allows low-risk, nonviolent state inmates to join a litter crew that picks up trash on area roads several days a week, in exchange for time off their sentences.

BCSO already has a daily cleanup crew, begun several years ago, to perform trash pickup all over the county. But the new crew will be focused on the well-traveled routes of U.S. Highway 321 and U.S. Highway 411, sprucing up our scenic highways with the onset of the tourist season.

Drawn from a pool of 18 inmates, the new crew works five and sometimes six days a week.

Eligible inmates who volunteer for duty receive “two-for-one” sentencing breaks. In other words, they receive two days off their sentences for every day of work with the crew. BCSO officials say this also helps avoid jail overcrowding.

According to a BCSO release, the inmates covered 30 miles of road and filled 77 bags of trash in the first week of the program alone.

Also assisting the pickup details are officers — both two- and four-legged — from the BCSO mounted patrol division. Officials say the officers on horseback have a better vantage from which to keep an eye on workers, and can quickly outpace the rare inmate who tries to run from custody.

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