Hamilton Co. official says change to community service adds to roadway trash problem

Litter crew community service in Hamilton County. (Image: WTVC)

Community service, once mandatory for DUI offenders, is now left to the judge's discretion in Hamilton County, and that change could change how our streets look.

Chris Jackson, Director of the Hamilton County Corrections Department, says in the 20 years he's been here, he hasn't seen these roads dirtier than they are now.

He says one law is making the issue harder to fix.

On Dayton Boulevard in Hixson, you’ll see plenty of cars passing by.

Look closer and you’ll sometimes see workers wearing safety vests, picking up litter off the sides of the road.

But in recent years, Chris Jackson says fewer people are there to do the job.

"There were times in the past where we had anywhere from 70 to 100 people here on any given day picking up trash,” said Jackson.

He says now they may only have 10 to 20 workers at a time.

The people picking up litter are often those required to do three days of community service after being charged with a DUI.

But in recent years, it’s no longer mandatory. Instead it’s up to a judge’s what sentence they serve.

“We’ve always taken pride in being able to clean up the roads and how Hamilton County looks,” says Jackson.

But with the lack of manpower, Jackson says he already sees a steep increase in trash on the roads.

Putting a damper on the Scenic City’s look for both first time visitors and proud residents.

“When you’re driving home, you look out the window and you can see the trash sitting on the side of the road.”

This is why Jackson and other county leaders say they are asking legislators to put the old law back into effect.

The Corrections Department tells us the community service mandate had also applied to people charged with nonviolent property crimes and drug offenses.

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