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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Community service is appropriate alternative to jail time, prosecutor says

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ivy Herron photo

Work Crew Supervisor Charlie Brown watches members of a work crew use hand scythes to cut weeds at an intersection on C.R. 1100 N. On Sunday, the crew did various odd jobs in Harrison, Jackson and Van Buren townships.



Community service is an alternate sentencing technique available to courts with a simple philosophy -- a person does charitable work for the community in exchange for what the court hopes is a learning experience.

"We look at community service as an appropriate and reasonable means of punishment for less serious offenders when it's their first time through the court system," said Clay County Prosecutor Lee Reberger. "Jail is too drastic for 'first-timers,' but community service is a viable means of punishment and a way for them to give back to the community."

Charlie Brown, employed by Clay County Community Corrections as a work crew supervisor, helps to oversee and organize service projects for adults and juveniles participating in court-appointed community service or work release programs on the weekends.

Unavailable during weekdays because of work or school, adults and juveniles pay a court fee of $35 to participate in the weekend road crews.

"These are good people giving back to their community by working off a minor mistake," Brown said while out with a road crew in Van Buren Township Sunday afternoon. "I have to be creative and use my imagination to give them something to do at times."

The work assigned during community service can be targeted to correct an offense -- for example, if someone vandalizes a park, they can be made to clean it up -- or perform odd jobs in the community.

This summer road crews have cut grass at various local cemeteries, trimmed weeds along county roadways and at intersections, helped clean the LEAAP Center and done yard work around the courthouse.

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