Tucson considers using inmates to clean up neighborhoods - Tucson News Now

Tucson considers using inmates to clean up neighborhoods

The hope is a force dedicated to cleanup can keep the problem of illegal dumping from getting out of hand. (Source: KOLD News 13) The hope is a force dedicated to cleanup can keep the problem of illegal dumping from getting out of hand. (Source: KOLD News 13)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Tucson City Council will discuss a pilot program which will use inmate labor to clean up neighborhoods.

For years, Tucson has wrestled with the problem of renters and out-of-state owners dumping furniture and mattresses curbside when they leave.

That trash stays on the curbs sometimes for weeks, blighting the neighborhoods.

Tucson has neither the manpower nor the money to adequately address the problem so it may turn to inmates.

Tucson Ward VI council member Steve Kozachik said, "I appreciate the financial benefit. They're well supervised and there's the humanitarian element of getting them outside."

Many neighbors seem to agree.

"I think it's a great idea," said Lois Miller, president of the Coronado Heights Neighborhood Association. "I know they can work far cheaper than the city."

A quick drive around Coronado Heights near midtown Tucson illustrates the concerns.

A family plagued by drug use and other small crimes was evicted from a home on West Glenn Street near North Oracle Road.

The curbside in front of the home is littered with mattresses and couches which have been piling up for two weeks.

"More keeps coming because people see this and think the city will do something about this so it just continues to pile up," said Jim Mouser, the service manager for American Conditioned Air, across the street. "Generally you get a lot of little stuff but with an eviction you get a large amount of stuff."

The city will set aside $25,000 for the pilot program which is considerably less than what it costs today, but hard numbers are difficult to come by.

The hope is a force dedicated to cleanup can keep the problem from getting out of hand.

"There's a lot of sites that have been impacted by the illegal dumping so we want to be able to address those at a much quicker rate," said Carlos Delatorre, an assistant manager for Environmental Services.

Tucson already uses inmate labor to clean its medians, washes and work at its landfills so adding them to neighborhood cleanup seems a logical extension.

Fear of having inmates in the neighborhoods does not seem to be an issue either.

"I'm sure they won't be using hardened criminals, they'll be low level criminals and they'll be supervised," Mouser said.

The city will vote next week.

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved. 

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