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Houston Diversion Program To Benefit Low-Level Offenders And Bayous

Up to 160 people will be able to participate in the program each month

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg.

In lieu of a jail sentence, the Clean and Green diversion program allows eligible non-violent offenders to clear their criminal records by cleaning up Houston's waterways.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said prosecutors will decide who is eligible for the program. Defendants facing charges of any violent crime cannot participate.

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said he sees many benefits to the program, like freeing up jail space and reducing recidivism.

"To us this is a no-brainer,” said Gonzalez. “We operate the largest jail complex in the State of Texas – the third largest in the entire country – and, in fact, right now we are pretty much at capacity."

The program will also cut costs.

"This helps saves some taxpayer dollars that would otherwise go into a costly incarceration system or a very costly prosecution system," said Gonzalez.

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office estimates $240,000 in yearly benefits from manual labor through community service.

The announcement of the program marks the official partnership with the Texas Conservation Corps at American YouthWorks, which will supervise participants.

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Elizabeth Trovall

Elizabeth Trovall

Immigration Reporter

Elizabeth Trovall is an immigration reporter for Houston Public Media. She joined the News 88.7 team after several years abroad in Santiago, Chile, where she reported on business, energy, politics and culture. Trovall's work has been featured on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, Latino...

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