By Margaret Stokes & Chris Howell NewsOn6.com
TULSA, OK -- The community service program is provided by the city and offers people a way to pay their ticket, even if they can't. In fact, after twenty years of this program the River Parks Authority depends on these free workers to get the job done.
"It gives back to the community as well as helps them work off their fines and fees," said Eileen Hawkins, Head Probation Officer.
"We have a real small maintenance crew here at river parks. We have eight full time employees, so we need some help. We have a lot of land to take care of," said Alan McBeath, Manager of Park Maintenance.
In fact, the work done by the misdemeanants adds up to about eight thousand hours of man labor a year.
"During the summer months we have a lot of areas where we use them to trim weeds, and there's also a lot of litter next to Riverside drive to pick up. The option is very popular and there's always stuff to do. I mean these are just regular guys who just made a mistake," said McBeath.
In these hard economic times extra cash is often not available. The courts understand that.
"It's tough and it's been tough for about five years. A lot of folks are still out of work. Some people aren't qualified for work. We have 17 sites within in the city, and we even try and accommodate those ladies who are expecting. We know it's hard times right now and they can work it off," said Hawkins.
Of course not all citations qualify.
"Now if they're on probation and its part of their rules and conditions there's no cash value. But there is a cash value if it's just traffic tickets," said Hawkins.
The money is hard earned though. Each eight hour day of service is worth about fifty dollars.
For those who want to clear their name, this is often the chosen option.