Community Service Programs Valuable

Community service programs for nonviolent criminals can do them a world of good. But structured as something better than make-work initiatives, they can be of enormous benefit to communities, too.

In Steubenville, the Municipal Court community service program involved about 200 people who were unable to pay fines and court costs for various minor offenses last year, according to Judge John Mascio.

During the year, workers in the program cut grass and weeds on 738 vacant lots, cleaned city streets 121 times and did custodial work at the city police station 232 times, Mascio noted in a review of the program.

“The city was looking at a $50,000 bid for janitorial work in the City Hall complex, but we are doing it for free,” Mascio commented.

The judge and other officials involved in the program say they have witnessed numerous situations in which community service has helped to set minor offenders on a better path.

Far from costing taxpayers money, offenders in good community service programs can save it. Steubenville’s experience should serve as a model for other communities in that regard.