Participants in the Massachusetts Trial Court Community Service Program were in Milton on Friday, November 16, raking leaves at Cunningham Park near the tennis courts and playground. The program, which is run by the Office of Community Corrections, allows individuals on probation to work off court fees or required community service hours in a supervised atmosphere.
The program provides between 35,000 and 40,000 community service hours statewide per month, according to David Skocik, Statewide Program Supervisor-Community Service Program.
While some similar programs use individuals serving prison terms, the participants in Milton were all on probation.
“These individuals are out on the street,” Skocik said.
Skocik added that individuals with restrictions on their probation like sexual offenders would not be eligible to violate any terms of their probation to participate in the program.
The Cunningham Foundation has used the Trial Court Community Service Program for a handful of projects since 2009, according to Park Manager Dave Wahlgren.
Aside from raking leaves, like they did Friday, the participants have helped clean up the park’s wooded area used by local teens for parties and painted the pool.
“I find them to be very helpful,” Wahlgren said.
In his time working with the program, Wahlgren said there have been no problems. He explained that the workers are helpful, especially for jobs the foundation can’t staff, as the program provides groups like Cunngingham Park, DCR and other nonprofits with free labor.
Skocik said a Trial Court employee who works alongside the participants and monitors them closely. Here in Milton, Wahlgren said a Cunningham Park employee was with the group while they worked.
Wahlren also added he didn’t expect the probationers to interact with any park-goers because of the time and date of their service.
“This time of year there’s very little going on,” said Wahlgren.
At least one Milton resident, who asked not to be named, took issue with the workers being in the playground area of the park.
“I think it’s horrible,” she said. “A crime, is a crime, is a crime.”
Visit http://www.mass.gov/courts/admin/occ/commservice.html for an overview of the Trial Court Community Service Program.