A Michigan county sheriff says his new program will attempt to convince youthful first offenders that crime doesn’t pay by equipping them with shovels, gloves and reflective vests and dispatching them to county roads to remove the unfortunate furry victims of Buick bumpers and Goodyear radials.
Under a program announced in late April by Ingham County Sheriff Gene L. Wriggelsworth, selected young, non-violent offenders will spend time keeping the county’s roadways free of road-killed animals instead of serving any hard time behind bars in the county jail at the taxpayer’s expense.
Sheriff Wriggelsworth says the Dead Animal Recovery Team (DART) will save the county an estimated $40 per day, compared to the cost of incarceration. “The benefit will be cleaner streets clearly, but also the fact that we’ve got people who could have been sentenced to jail working for the community,” the sheriff said. “It’s a win-win.”
In addition to the obvious, Wriggelsworth said the program offers judges an alternative for sentencing youthful law-breakers who they determine may be better suited for learning a lesson while picking up dead skunks and vermin than by sharing a cell with them.
As a result, DART gives courts in the 55th Judicial District, which includes the City of Lansing, a new method of sending a wake-up call to youthful offenders.
“If you’ve got a young person who doesn’t seem to be getting the idea that this is a serious situation being in court, you might want to do something short of sending them to jail in order to get their attention,” said Judge Donald Allen.
Those sentenced to DART will be supervised by a volunteer deputy sheriff in a marked police vehicle, along with special trailer created for the program. It will be equipped with gloves, shovels and reflective vests.
“I hope it will be a two-prong approach to this issue,” Sheriff Wriggelsworth said. “One is it makes our roads cleaner, the other is it gives our judges alternatives to sentencing.”