SPOKANE – The Lands Council has partnered with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office to give low-risk offenders an opportunity to make a positive impact on our environment.
The Lands Council executive director Mike Petersen said the project will provide a workforce to match the workload: one that there isn’t enough volunteers to handle currently.
“Here are people who need to do some work, some volunteer work, out here in the field and we’re gonna train them about plants, we’re gonna train them about how to help things grow and thrive,” Petersen said. “And we’re gonna get some hard work out of ‘em, we think, too.”
Lands Council development director Amanda Swan said one portion of the Green Sleeves Project takes Lands Council educators out to the Geiger Facility to teach the offenders the skills they’ll need in the field at Hangman, Deep and Coulee creeks.
“So when they walk out those doors, maybe they have a new vested interested in watershed restoration or maybe it’s basic landscaping, but we do really want to educate every member of our community,” Swan said.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said he has seen several success stories of inmates who get a chance to work outside.
“Rather than have ‘em sitting in a jail, it makes much more sense to have ‘em out, giving back to our community,” Knezovich said. “So for us, this is a win-win. They’re not in jail and they’re doing something to repay their debt to society.”
Inmates will not be paid for their service, but they do have to qualify for the Green Sleeves project by being low-risk and non-violent offenders.
The Lands Council hopes to have them out in the field every week this summer.