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Chain gang continues clean up efforts in Clallam County

May 14th, 2014 - 5:19am

(Port Angeles) -- In 1998, the Clallam County Sheriff's Office used a $30-thousand dollar grant offered by the Washington State Department of Ecology to local Solid Waste planning authorities for community litter and dump site cleanup. That led to the creation of a chain gang that used supervised voluntary inmates from the County Jail for litter and illegal dump site cleanup along with limited road maintenance.

Fifteen years later, the use of county jail inmates is a viable program used to assist the county with a number of clean-up and maintenance tasks. Sergeant Darrell Bryant is in charge of the program. He explains the specific jobs that are assigned to the inmates.

Inmates who work on the chain gang are given credit towards their jail time. The inmate gets ten days of credit taken off his sentence, for every thirty days of work he performs. A typical county jail inmate who is not part of the chain gang only receives three days of credit toward his overall sentence, simply for being incarcerated.

Inmates have to volunteer to become part of the chain gang, but not all are accepted. A class A felony will keep you off the crew. Minor misdemeanor offenses involving drug use, DUI's, or warrants are the typical offender profile for a chain gang member.

Over the course of 2013, chain gangs put in over 9,000 hours, scoured close to 600 miles of roadway, removed over 22,000 pounds of litter, cleaned up over 1200 dump sites and removed over 52,000 noxious weeds.

The chain gang is also used for specific public service requests.

The current grant funding levels from the Department of Ecology runs through 2015 for litter abatement. It had been as high as $60,000 but over the years has dropped to $40,000 due to state budget constraints.

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