The director of the Eddy County DWI Program hopes trash cleanups around road signs remembering residents killed by drunk drivers leaves a lasting impression on those charged with driving while intoxicated.
“None of those individuals on those signs were with a drunk driver. They were killed by drunk drivers or made out what turned to be a fatal decision and rode with an impaired driver,” said Cynthia Sharif, Eddy County DWI program director.
“When we have the opportunity to tell their story. They were not just a statistic they were a human being (and) a person with a life and a story,” she said.
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Formed more than 20 years ago the Roadway Cleanup Community Service (RCCS) was part of an alternative sentencing unit (ASU) for DWI offenders. Offenders were tasked to pickup trash as part of community service requirements set up by municipal and magistrate judges.
Sharif said picking up trash was a reality check for traffic offenders.
“It awakens their awareness. Why do people think its OK to dump their stuff or throw their trash out. It increases their awareness that litter is a problem,” she said.
Sharif said the ASU offered by the Eddy DWI Program was not funded by the Eddy County Detention Center’s (ECDC) ASU project.
Warden Billy Massingill said ECDC’s ASU offered services for supervised probation like remote alcoholic monitoring and home detention monitoring.
Sharif said RCCS was funded through the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration’s (NMDFA) New Mexico Local DWI Distribution and Grant Fund.
“Program funding may be used to support alternative sentencing which provides the courts with sentencing alternatives to traditional incarceration, including electronic monitoring devices, alcohol monitoring devices, community custody, DWI/drug courts, and community service,” read NMDFA’s website.
Sharif said Eddy County is the fiscal agent for the DWI Program and $43,000 was budgeted for the current 2023 fiscal year for RCCS.
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Sharif said RCCS was not limited to those charged with DWI as anyone issued a ticket for other traffic infractions maybe referred by a municipal or magistrate judge.
“We have always said that the Eddy County DWI Program was a community resource serving all of Eddy County. I believe that through the Roadway Community Cleanup Service program it speaks truth to that comment,” she said.
“We help the individuals who are complying with their court order,” she said.
Trash cleanups occur on alternate weekends in the Carlsbad and Artesia areas.
Sharif said a combined cleanup near Carlsbad June 18 and June 19 netted 62 bags of trash, a mattress, a tire, and the front end of a car.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.