BCSO, judges launch pilot project similar to work-release program

'Bexar County Gives Back' targets non-violent offenders

SAN ANTONIO – A half-dozen defendants will show up outside of the Bexar County Jail on Saturday morning to clean up the area by pulling weeds and picking up trash.

”The program is called Bexar County Gives Back because we want you to give back to the community,” 226th District Court Judge Velia Meza told the six participants during a remote briefing Friday morning.

Meza and County Court 15 Judge Melissa Vara screened and selected the participants, all who had cases pending in their courts.

“The participants will be working every Saturday for four weeks with keeping defendants out of jail and on their way to changing their lives,” Meza said.

The program is similar to a work-release program that was discontinued when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar will join the judges in monitoring the program. He calls the program restorative justice.

”We get to reduce our jail population, but also get to see to it that things that the community needs done are also getting done,” Salazar said.

He said that a cleanup outside the jail will be a part of Saturday’s initial session.

“I can see this expanding out to possibly doing some roadside cleanup, graffiti cleanup and maybe even doing some work with some of the nonprofits here in town,” Salazar said.

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