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Honest work for criminals

Criminals are a big part of the reason that the streets of East St. Louis are strewn with litter, so it’s fitting to see criminals help clean up.

Eight prisoners were on the trash detail last week. It’s a small way for them to help pay back the taxpayers for the high costs of fighting crime — the police, the prosecutors, the prison staffs. Victims gain the satisfaction of knowing that the people who hurt them are now doing something productive.

Besides the immediate benefits, we hope there also will be long-lasting ones. As U.S. Attorney Steve Wiggginton said, almost all prisoners eventually are released and returned to the community. Perhaps when that eventually happens, the prisoners will be more respectful of the law-abiding people because of this experience.