Clean or go to jail? New option for Payne County offenders

Clean... or go to jail? Some offenders in Payne County will soon have that choice. Fox 25's Kisha Henry tells us about the new program that's saving taxpayers' money and keeping the county clean.

"It costs lots of money to put people in jail and hold them there," says Tina Bolton, a research assistant with the Payne County Commissioner's Office. She says the CLEAN Program will free up jail space and tax payer money. "It actually stands for: Cleaning our Land and our Neighborhoods," says Bolton.

Based off of Oklahoma County's SHINE program, which focuses on covering up graffiti, the CLEAN program is scheduled to start sometime in August. Certain non-violent offenders will be given the choice to participate in community service instead of going to jail. "It could be going out and cleaning up roadsides. They'll be cleaning up litter," says Bolton. The offenders could also clean-up graffiti and mow county land. "Someone is being paid right now to do that work, so it's going to free up those people to do other work in the county," she says.

The program will not only benefit the county and tax payers, but the Department of Corrections says it will also help the offenders. "Most of the people get in trouble because they don't have anything to do," says Dee Miller, director of Community Sentencing with the Department of Corrections. She says this opportunity forces them to fill their time with productivity. "It will also give them the opportunity to be mentored by somebody because someone has to supervise their work. It encourages them and guides them towards being better people," she says.

"It's going to give them the opportunity to pay for their mistakes, but instead of doing that through jail time, they'll be able to get out and serve the county," says Bolton. But, not just anyone will be able to participate in this program. "It will only be available to certain non-violent offenders. We have along list of exlusions," says Bolton. People who qualify would be those who committed offenses like writing bad checks, driving without a license, or having a small amount of drugs. However, those under the age of 18 and those who committed violent crimes will not be eligible.

"We're just hoping to clean up our county and at the same time, save tax payer money and benefit those non-violent offenders," says Bolton.