Inmate beach raking program begins

Jul 13, 2018

After an anonymous complaint halted machine raking at Round Hill Beach, inmates are taking over the job, at least for this summer.

On July 12, about six inmates from the Dartmouth House of Correction, supervised by sheriff’s officers and Parks and Recreation staff, met at the beach at 6 a.m. to rake the entire beach free of seaweed and other debris.

“They’re doing a great job, and the beach is looking good,” said Parks and Recreation Director Tim Lancaster.

It was his idea to reach out to the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office to ask for help after the department learned it can no longer operate its machine beach raking system. It was suspended following an anonymous complaint made to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Since then, the department has been searching for a way to keep Dartmouth’s largest town beach clean of debris and seaweed.

The department had originally debated creating a required beach management plan to restore machine raking, but that process ran into complications because of uncertainties regarding the impact endangered piping plovers could have on the beach, and if piping plovers have ever even lived on the beach in recent years.

The new solution is made possible by the sheriff’s office’s community work program. It offers up inmates, free of charge, to municipalities and organizations in need of services, explained Jonathan Darling, the department’s public information officer.

“It gives them an opportunity to go out into the community to do various projects for nonprofits and cities and towns, and government bodies” Darling said.

“They get time off their sentence for working, and the taxpayers win because they’re doing a valuable community service because they’re out working and learning.”

The cleanups will continue twice a week throughout the summer from 6:15 to 7:30 a.m. The beach opens to the public at 9 a.m.