Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Work detail begins - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Ursula Madden

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Work detail begins

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Power tools are the hallmark of a work in progress, and at the lot near the intersection of Lauderdale and Mississippi recently, a clean-up crew consisting of Shelby County inmates was hard at work.

Teaming up with the city and county and using inmate volunteers to clean up trash covered lots was the brainchild of Freedom from Unnecessary Negatives founder, Stevie Moore.

Moore said he was proud of the guys who signed on for the project.
"I envision this time next year we are going to have a cleaner more beautiful city, and our young men will come out and be productive and they won't come back to jail because they've learned something to do," Moore said. "They can get their own landscaping company, make a lot of money, so they don't have to do wrong no more."
Shelby County like Marvin Harwell consider the program a path to redemption.  While we were working on this story, the inmates were working across the street from Booker T. Washington High School, trying to give back to the community they took from.

"We messed up, we help clean it up," Harwell said.

Harwell's trouble with drugs landed him in jail, but now he's trying to turn it all around, and he believes volunteering is part of the process.  Harwell hopes people see the inmate clean-up crews as a good thing for the community.

"It's going to be a positive thing to see inmates come out and clean up the community," he said. "It's a positive thing to help keep the community clean."

The inmates are getting a lot of support.  Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton was on hand for the inmates first project.

"Nothing in life comes free and easy, and this is tough," Wharton said. "It's rebuilding the neighborhood, but just as importantly is that it's rebuilding and building character."

The lot across from BTW is just the beginning for the inmates.  Each inmate will perform 100 hours of volunteer service.

Click here to send an email to Ursula Madden.

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