OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – “Very thankful, because being in the county jail is the worst place anyone could ever be,” said SHINE participant Justin Schrimsher.
Schrimsher is just one of many offenders who are now part of Oklahoma County’s SHINE program.
It assigns community service hours to low-level, nonviolent offenders versus spending that time in jail.
“These are generally people that you’re probably in restaurants or the malls or grocery stores with all the time, but they’ve made a mistake, and this is giving them a chance to serve off their debt to society this way,” said Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan.
Tuesday Maughan and District Judge Ray Elliott announced the program has now expanded to weekends, which are typically the busiest days at the county jail.
“It was causing some major manpower problems over at the jail and yet the individuals need to be held accountable for their actions,” said Judge Elliott.
By switching what could’ve been weekend jail sentences to community service, Maughan and Elliott both say the SHINE program gives offenders a chance to keep their jobs and still take responsibility for their wrongs.
“I don’t think we’re being soft on crime; I think we’re giving a chance for transformation in their souls to be better citizens,” said Maughan.
“We as judges want them to work, want them to pay taxes, want them to be productive citizens,” said Elliott.
Since adding weekend hours, they’ve already seen a decline in the weekend jail population, and the amount of trash picked up and service done around the county has skyrocketed.
“Giving back to the community is a lot better than being stuck in a jail cell not being able to help anyone,” said Schrimsher.
For more information about the SHINE program, visit www.oklahomacounty.org/Elected-Offices/Commissioners/District-2/-SHINE-Volunteer-Program.