New program to have law-breakers clean up Houston's waterways

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced a new community-service program Wednesday that would put people charged with certain low-level, non-violent offenses to work, letting them clean up their criminal records by cleaning up Houston's waterways.

"The 'Clean & Green' program allows law violators charged with certain misdemeanors to repay society in a tangible, measurable way," Ogg said.

Participants, 17 and older, will clear trash and invasive plants, skim waterways and perform other conservation services in public spaces across the county, especially along bayous and tributaries.

The program starts this month. Eligibility will be determined by prosecutors on a case-by-case basis. Defendants facing domestic violence, assault or weapons charges would not be considered.

"There is no governmental entity responsible for cleaning up trash along the banks of the bayous," Ogg said. "This will deliver an estimated $240,000 a year benefit to Harris County in the form of manual labor, as based on the City of Houston's labor-wage rates."

Participants are required to work one or two 6-hour shifts. Completion of the program fulfills the community-service requirement of pre-trial diversion contracts in which persons charged with a crime can meet certain requirements to avoid prosecution.

Participants will be supervised by the Texas Conservation Corps at American YouthWorks.
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