Charlotte County to roll out alternative to jail time

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PUNTA GORDA, Fla. Non-violent offenders in Charlotte County will soon pick up trash by roadsides instead of serving jail time.

County Commissioners recently approved a program that will apply to non-violent offenders with jail sentences of 30 days or fewer. The first crews are expected to hit the streets in a few months.

The idea is to save money and resources, Charlotte County Sheriff’s Maj. Earl Goodwyne III said.

“They’re not actually sitting here, serving that sentence of 15 or 20 or 25 or 30 days,” Goodwyne said. “They’re actually working with a crew around the community.”

The measure could also help keep the jail from becoming overcrowded, according to Goodwyne.

“Cleaning up roadsides, working on maintenance projects, and we’re keeping the bed space available for the people that need to be in jail,” he said.

Residents like Keith Wright expressed optimism about the program.

“I think for non-violent misdemeanors, community service is a wonderful thing, as long as it’s not somebody who’s a large recidivist,” Wright said.

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