Litter pickup by N. Carolina prisoners poised for scrap heap

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Prisoners picking up trash while guards keep close watch has been a common sight along North Carolina roads for more than 100 years. But that could soon go away.

The proposed state budget is almost certain to stop sending money to the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice to pay for litter crews and road squads. Both House and Senate budget offers include the shift, which would allow the Department of Transportation to use more private contractors.

Transportation budget-writers say data show prison teams are more expensive than contractors when miles of roadside covered are factored in.

Some lawmakers are lamenting the possible end of litter pickup by prisoners as a public service. A budget provision could keep open the door for them to perform the work if costs come down.