Local News

Some Sentenced to Community Service Need No Supervision

Posted January 13, 1998 12:00 a.m. EST

— Often, people who are sentenced to community service 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 up some NC roadways, but he also has to put in a full-day's work at his regular job. State officials say that makes him the perfect candidate to perform his community service without a supervisor.

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

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

A deputy is assigned to follow up, to make sure the community service has 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 is expanded statewide.

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