Seventh Circuit Court Chief Judge Josh Butcher and Logan County Magistrate Joe Mendez discuss new sentencing for nonviolent offender to litter cleanup during a recent Logan County Commission meeting.
AM Stone | WVOW News
LOGAN What’s old is new again and possibly a step forward addressing the perpetual litter problem throughout the county.
Logan County Circuit Court Chief Judge Josh Butcher was in attendance for the second regularly scheduled meeting of the year for the Logan County Commission on Monday, January 23. The judge delivered an update to commissioners concerning community service sentencing with the Southwestern Regional Day Report Center.
Judge Butcher said a litter control community service program, once utilized in the county, should be revisited.
“There’s lots of ways to get that done,” Butcher said. “One of the easiest ways to get it done, and seems so easy to implement, was to simply authorize, as chief judge, that magistrates of Logan County consider sentences of community service.”
The chief judge said magistrates now have the option to give community service through garbage pickup if they see fit based on the criteria of sentencing. He said this was a practice of the past and it had ceased over time.
In spring 2021, then newly elected commissioner Diana Barnette hosted a forum at her movie theater to address the litter problem. It was at that meeting; County Magistrate Joe Mendez suggested the idea of sentencing nonviolent offenders to community service by picking up litter.
Mendez had reasoned that a sentence of community service could deal with the trash strewn along creeks and ditch lines, but also have an impact on the ever soaring jail bill.
Mendez was on hand with Judge Butcher at Monday's meeting. Magistrate Mendez said litter and the jail bill are still issues, but now magistrate court has the option he has long championed. Mendez said he has sentenced eight offenders so far and four of them have completed their sentences.
“I see nothing but good coming from this. We just need to get it up on its feet and running because right now we’re just walking.” Mendez said.
Diana Barnette, now President of the Logan County Commission, commended the program.
“I think ninety percent of our population in Logan is sick of seeing trash,” Barnette said. “We gotta have zero tolerance and we all have to work together. And this program, I think it is going to grow. Like Joe said, it’s walking right now. I appreciate the judge getting on board. It’s going to take all of us.”