It didn't look like much, a cigarette wrapper here, a cigar wrapper there, but three workers from the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury filled nearly a dozen bags of garbage in downtown Danbury Wednesday.
The women were working with the UNIT to clear trash downtown, work that included a nasty discovery by Kohanza Street. The inmates found dozens of plastic bags full of dog feces that a person had filled, presumeably after cleaning up after their dog, and then tossed over a fence. The feces filled a black garbage bag.
"I enjoy being out in the country," said Atiya, who said life as a prison inmate is boring. "I was running to get onto the list to do this."
Atiya said the Danbury FCI is so small, you see the same people every day.
That was pretty much Alicia's take as well.
"I just like to come out and see the countryside," Alicia said. "If I wasn't out here, I'd be cleaning bathrooms. That's my job."
What the inmates did Wednesday was walk in the sunshine, pick up trash using gloves and mechanical grabbers. After work, Shawn Stillman, unit coordinator, returns them to the FCI.
"We're doing more than just picking up trash," Stillman said. He is working with Police Officer Ken Utter to remove grafitti from around the city. To do that, the workers are painting over grafitti on city bridges with cement paint.
Utter has been working against grafitti in Danbury since 2000. He said the city is seeing less grafitti, because word has gotten out that people who get caught do community service cleaning off grafitti.
"It's enforcement. They know we're actively looking for them, and we're looking at them," Utter said. "They're less brazen and less bold than they used to be."
By painting over grafitti quickly, Utter said, it takes away the incentive to risk painting it in the first place.
"Why would you bother to do it when you know it's going to be gone," Utter asked. "You'll be arrested and you'll do community service."