SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — The city of Springfield and the Hampden County Sheriff's Department have reached an agreement to have crews of female inmates spruce up city parks.

Sheriff Michael Ashe says it's the first time women will make up crews in the department's community restitution program. His department will provide two crews of five or six women each from the Western Massachusetts Regional Women's Correctional Center in Chicopee.

The city has approved nearly $200,000 to pay for supervision and equipment for the women, including mowers and rakes.

The crews will tend 10 small parks closed last year because of budget cuts. The program will save the city money because having inmates maintain parks is cheaper than hiring private contractors.

Ashe tells The Republican (http://bit.ly/Zn04WI ) the work provides critical rehabilitation and career benefits.


Information from: The Springfield (Mass.) Republican, http://www.masslive.com/news/