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Some Sentenced to Community Service Need No Supervision

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GOLDSBORO — Often, people who are sentenced to communityservice are doing the bulk of North Carolina's highway clean-up work, but a new state-wide program may now make that free labor even more efficient.

Nicolas Gwatney is working off his community service by cleaning upsome NC roadways, but he also has to put in a full-day's work at hisregular job. State officials say that makes him the perfect candidate toperform his community service without a supervisor.

The unsupervised workers program has been in place in Wayne County forthree and a half years. A similar plan begins statewide later this month.This kind of community service is often the punishment for relatively minorcrimes like first-time drunk driving or larceny.

State officials stress that this program is reserved exclusively fornon-violent, misdemeanor offenders. They say you'll never find anyone withany history of violence doing this type of work without some sort ofsupervision.

A deputy is assigned to follow up, to make sure the community servicehas been performed correctly. If it has not, says Program Manager Ginny Herrett, the worker faces stiffer punishment.

State officials say the pilot program saved roughly $6,000 last year,and the savings are expected to increase dramatically when the program isexpanded statewide.

The statewide expansion should begin next week. State officials admitthey didn't come up with the idea. "Keep Wayne County Beautiful" is takingcredit for that.