Arab’s new program gives inmates a chance to help community while paying back fines or community service

ARAB, Ala. -- Pretty soon folks driving through Arab will see a cleaner city, because of a new program that allows inmates to pay off their fines and help the community.

"We started probably six or eight months ago with looking at how we could make our city cleaner, and we'd come up with a proposal," Mayor Bob Joslin explained. The idea was to create a program where the city's inmates could have a chance to pay back their fines, or work, through community service.

"Jerry Damson graciously donated the van to us. Austin Hinds Motors and Federal Signal supplied the lights that go on the vehicle and Southern Ink and Thread actually did the wrap," Joslin said, "So, we’ve got a great looking van, and that’s just the way people step-up in our community to make things happen.”

"We're in the process of hiring a jailer/warden who will be over the inmates, but we're not going to humiliate them in any way. They'll be dressed just like an Arab city worker with a reflective vest on," he added.

The police department will have a list of inmates, who want to participate, and there will be strict guidelines.

"They don't have any violence in their background, or any assault, or anything like that," Assistant Chief Shane Washburn said, "Mainly, we're going to be getting inmates that only have fine violations and things like that. Very minor incidences as far as crime goes."

They'll go out as frequently as possible. "It'll be a plus for the community in the way that we'll be getting our streets cleaned up, and it will also give our inmates a chance to pay off part of their fines and pay back their community service that they've been given by the judge," Joslin said.

The program begins rolling in a few weeks when the jailer/warden position is filled. City leaders worked with the city's legal officials so inmates can participate and pay back their fines or community service.