Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Inmate work detail - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Ursula Madden

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Inmate work detail

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Shelby County inmates will soon be on the job cleaning up blight in the city.

Lots like the one at the intersection of Mississippi and Lauderdale litter the city: a rundown apartment complex, along with a trash-filled field, are directly across the street from Booker T Washington High School.

'Freedom From Unnecessary Negatives' founder Stevie Moore says Shelby County inmates in the rehabilitation program '3R' will do the job.

"We're not making them go," Moore said. "It's volunteer.  Matter of fact they're begging, 'When are we going out?'"

Moore's community action project has the full support of Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton, who says blight is one of the biggest problems in our community.
"How do you teach a child who has to walk by miles and miles of that stuff everyday, that he or she ought to have pride in their community?" Wharton asked.
The goal for the inmates will be to not only clean up blighted lots, but to maintain them, all with cooperation through Memphis and Shelby County.

Moore says the list of target sites and some equipment will come from the city's Director of Community Enhancement.  The cost to the city and county amounts to wear and tear on equipment already in use, and any legal concerns about using inmate work crews to clean up have been cleared up.

"It's going to work," Wharton said.

Wharton believes the inmate clean-up crews will work, because, he says, the inmates he's heard from want it to work.

"They say, 'Look, I violated the law.  I'm in here doing my time.  But can you find some way to make it productive?'" he said.

The intersection of Mississippi and Lauderdale looks like a good place to start.

Click here to send an email to Ursula Madden.

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