MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Bibb county inmates are cleaning up neighborhoods across Macon and saving taxpayers money at the same time.
The City of Macon and Bibb County Sheriff's Office have joined forces to rid the city of deteriorating neighborhoods by using county inmates.
Inmate work crews are cleaning yards, clearing debris and cutting grass in blighted areas of the city, including the Edgewood Road area. The area is known for criminal activity, according to city and county officials.
Bibb County Sheriff David Davis and Macon Mayor Robert Reichert both believe the endeavor benefits the city's and the county's needs. The city does not have to pay a private contractor to clean foreclosed and dilapidated homes. The county inmates can use the project to complete their community service hours.
"These properties have been declared a nuisance in their neighborhoods," said Sheriff Davis. "In my view it is a crime prevention issue, in that these properties are cleaned up where they are not havens for criminal activity. They are not places where places where criminals can hide drugs and those sorts of things. It also dresses up the community, for someone coming through can see that we are trying to make some effort to make this a better place to live and make these neighborhoods better for residence."
Reichert said if the city had to pay to keep the blighted areas clean, it would cost taxpayers a lot of money. He gave the sheriff 50 properties for his inmates to clean and the partnership will continue as needed.
"When the city condemns properties because they are blighted, abandoned or become vacant, we are left with the chore and the responsibility of maintaining the lot until we can put it back into use, until we can sell it to somebody that wants to buy it," said Reichert. "When they get overgrown they pull property values down and the neighborhood becomes a public nuisance with rodents and infestation of rodents, snakes and all kinds of things like that."
Reichert added the dilapidated housing becomes a haven for criminals, such as prostitutes and people using or selling drugs.
There are 70 properties listed in Macon that have been condemned. There are around 65 inmates working in the community service program. The partnership between the city and county allows the inmates to give back to the community and it allows the community to get something out of the inmates, according to Davis.