LIMA - A new program between the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) which began earlier this year in the Mansfield area is being introduced in northwest Ohio.
Beginning as early as next week, select inmates of the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution (AOCI) in Lima will begin picking up litter along several four-lane routes in the region.
Crews of inmates will pick up litter along Interstate 75 in Allen and Hancock counties; U.S. 23 in Hancock and Wyandot counties; U.S. 30 in Allen, Hancock, Putnam, Van Wert and Wyandot counties; and Ohio 15 in Hancock and Wyandot counties.
Inmates participating in the program will be low security level offenders who meet the eligibility requirements to work outside of the prison. Each inmate work crew will be supervised by ODRC security staff. The agreement between ODOT and ODRC began July 2, 2012 with offenders from the Grafton and Mansfield Correctional Institutions. With ODOT spending nearly $4 million and 206,221 man hours annually to remove litter along Ohio's highways, the new joint program will utilize local inmates from state-owned prisons to pick-up litter and save money.
"Litter is a totally preventable problem that wastes tax payer's dollars. This new program will allow ODOT to focus on its primary goal of maintaining Ohio's transportation system," said ODOT Director Jerry Wray. "We are excited to have the help of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and look forward to working with them to keep Ohio's roads clean and litter-free."
"We're glad AOCI is able to assist ODOT in a service which will provide a savings to the state and give our offenders a chance to give back to the community," said John Coleman, warden of AOCI.
The pilot agreement between the two departments will be in effect from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013. Debris in the roadway that may cause a hazard to the driving public and the removal of filled trash bags as the inmates perform the pick-up will remain the responsibility of ODOT.
"This is an opportunity for two state agencies to work together in something that is truly beneficial to both organizations and to the citizens of Ohio. It's one of those rare partnerships where there is really no downside to it," said Kirk Slusher, Ohio Department of Transportation District 1 deputy director.