If you're reading this story in the KING 5 app, click here.
It’s an idea from the Prosecutor’s Office in Everett that led to safer and cleaner streets, and more people staying out of jail. The Safe Streets Program launched a year ago this month, and its mission is to give low-level offenders the option of doing community service rather than serving jail time. Often, participants in this program will have tickets or misdemeanors for things like trespassing or possession of drug paraphernalia. Once they complete the program; their charges will drop.
The manager says many of the people involved are in a tough place in their life.
“A lot of folks I get are meth or heroin addicts, they’re homeless, and also I get folks who just want to stay out of jail so they can keep their job, so this gives them an opportunity to pick up trash in the city and also get their charges dropped,” Safe Streets Work Crew Manager Jack Jessup said. “In completing the program, they work anywhere from two to 14 days generally, although I have had people who work up to two months.”
The Safe Streets Work Crew spends six hours a day cleaning up trash throughout the city. During their lunch break, they watch videos that the manager hopes has a big impact.
“My goal is that they are life changing videos that they will be motivated, one, to get off of drugs, two, to get out of their homeless situation by helping them find a place to stay as well as get a job,” Jessup said.
So far the program has had impressive results. Last year 42 people completed the program, and so far this year already 30 more have finished their community service.
Derek Courdney is one of the people who picked this option. Courdney used to work for Boeing for more than a decade, but in the past has battled addiction issues that led him to his current homeless situation. Since starting the program, Courdney has completed drug rehab and is now working with housing agencies that hope to find him a place to stay. He says that the Safe Streets Program has been a blessing in his life.
Everett's Safe Streets Program
“It gives me a chance to actually have some ownership. It feels good like I’m actually doing something for the community,” Courdney said.
If you are interested in learning more about this effort, you can find details here.